University Of Iowa Research Could Lead To More-Reliable Turbines

A research grant from the Iowa Alliance for Wind Innovation and Novel Development (IAWIND) may ultimately lead to more-reliable wind turbines.

IAWIND recently announced a $99,150 research grant that will allow Pablo Carrica, an associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Iowa, to develop a simulation tool to predict the dynamic interaction between a wind turbine gearbox and the wind loads on the blades.

Carrica says he and his team will use computational fluid dynamics to develop this tool. LSM International, a Belgium-based engineering services and software company with offices in Iowa, will work with the researchers on this project.

If successful, the simulation tool will allow turbine manufacturers to adjust designs in order to lessen stress on the gearbox.

‘The turbine manufacturers would analyze these calculations and decide what are the weakest points on the gearboxes,’ says Carrica.

The research is expected to take two to three years and may also be useful for offshore wind turbines, Carrica explains.

‘What we plan to do, in that case, is to introduce the effect of the waves and the vibrations it causes to the overall machine – the floating structure, the tower, plus the wind turbine and blades – and take that into account also.’

The funds for this research grant come from a $3 million grant IAWIND received from the Iowa Power Fund, which is part of the Iowa Office of Energy Independence.

The $3 million grant was approved to implement research, training and education needs expressed by numerous wind energy companies.

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