Wind energy is one of the most promising and the fastest growing alternative-energy production technologies, which have been developed in response to stricter environmental regulations, the depletion of fossil-fuel reserves, and the world's ever-growing energy needs. This form of alternative energy is projected to provide 20 percent of the US energy needs by 2030. For economic reasons, wind turbines (articulated structures that convert wind energy into electrical energy) are expected to operate, with only regular maintenance, for at least 20 years. However, some key wind turbine components (especially the gearbox) tend to wear down, malfunction and fail in a significantly shorter time, often three to five years after installation, causing an increase in the wind-energy cost and in the cost of ownership of the wind turbine. Clearly, to overcome this problem, a significant increase in long-term gearbox reliability needs to be achieved.
While purely empirical efforts aimed at identifying shortcomings in the current design of the gearboxes are of critical importance, the present work demonstrates that the use of advanced computational engineering analyses, like the finite-element stress analysis and a post-processing fatigue-life assessment analysis, can also be highly beneficial.
The results obtained in the present work clearly revealed how a variety of normal operating and extreme wind-loading conditions can influence the service-life of a wind-turbine gearbox in the case when the service-life is controlled by the gear-tooth bending-fatigue.
The present work attempts to make a contribution to the resolution of an important problem related to premature-failure and inferior reliability of wind-turbine gearboxes.
Grujicic, M., Ramaswami, S., Snipes, J., Galgalikar, R., Chenna, V. and Yavari, R. (2014), "Computer-aided engineering analysis of tooth-bending fatigue-based failure in horizontal-axis wind-turbine gearboxes", International Journal of Structural Integrity, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 60-82. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSI-08-2013-0017Download as .RIS
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