Establishment of lightweight design concepts for wind turbine gearboxes

In order to meet climate protection targets,  there is a trend in industry towards conserving resources and saving energy through lightweight construction. Coupled with the objective of expanding the wind energy sector and installing wind turbines (WTG) ≥ 5 MW, lightweight construction is also becoming important for gear technology. If the output of WTGs increases, the mass and material consumption of WTG components will rise. Gearboxes must also be dimensioned larger. In order to save resources and energy, the material consumption in the design and manufacture of the gearboxes must be minimized by lightweight construction. Due to the high dynamic loads to which WTG gearboxes are subjected, lightweight gears have not been used in WTG gearboxes to date.  Previous lightweight construction concepts only consider the structural optimization of the gearwheel body when designing gears. The gear rim is currently not considered, which shows potential for new lightweight design concepts.

This joint project aims to develop design guidelines for holistic lightweight gears with integrated load monitoring for WTG gearboxes. The realization of lightweight demonstrators, of a test rig for measuring the geometry of the demonstrators under static load, and of a test rig for investigating dynamic load peaks validate the design. The holistic approach is to be manufactured additively and allows the integration of an inside sensing and telemetry system to record force curves and deformations, which contributes to the validation of the design. In addition, the integration of flexible structures within the gearing, e.g. by solid state joints and a condition monitoring system, coupled with the inside sensing system, will proactively compensate for peak loads. The holistic lightweight design approach thus enables direct and indirect potential for weight and material savings.

Funding authority:Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action
Funding ID:03LB1000A