Romax Technology has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the lead mechanical engineer in a consortium project to develop an innovative drivetrain design that could be scaled for large turbines and ultimately reduce the cost of wind energy.
The DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is running the $3 million project, and the consortium also includes CREE, DNV, the DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, GE Wind and Vattenfall Windpower. Romax says the team's concept will scale to ratings as high as 10 MW.
According to the company, Romax's gearbox design will consist of a single, planetary stage that reduces part numbers by eliminating higher speed gear stages and investigates the use of planet journal bearings for minimizing planet stage size.
Romax explains that its involvement in the project started in 2011, when it was selected to be part of an NREL team that competed against six other groups to conduct a study of advanced drivetrain technologies. The team was one of two awarded funding for a follow-on phase to build a prototype and demonstrate the commercialization of the technology.
‘After successfully completing phase one, phase two will give us the opportunity to fabricate and test a megawatt-scale prototype drivetrain to prove our design innovations," says Christopher Halse, Romax U.S. engineering manager. "The drivetrain will be tested in the NREL's 2.5 MW dynamometer and will utilize the NREL's newly commissioned Controllable Grid Interface to replicate the loads wind turbines undergo in the field.’