National Wind Technology Center Chooses Analysis Tool

The National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) has chosen SWANTECH’s Stress Wave Analysis (SWAN(TM)) technology for endurance testing of wind turbine mechanical drive systems.

GOLDEN, Colorado 2002-03-13 [] The NWTC is operated by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Department of Energy’s lead laboratory in wind technology development. The overriding objective of the NREL’s rigorous programs in research is to transfer technology advancements to manufacturers in order to continuously improve wind turbine development. Researchers at the NWTC, located in Golden, Colorado, conduct laboratory and field tests on turbine components and subsystems, provide independent technical reviews and analyses addressing specific turbine design challenges and perform project management for the benefit of participating wind turbine manufacturers. The testing program addresses electrical systems, control systems and mechanical systems including load stress, gearbox, vibrations and audible noise. “We decided to adopt SWAN technology for our testing program because we wanted a tool for tracking changes in the dynamic conditions within our various test articles as well as a tool for providing a predictive maintenance solution for our dynamometer drive system,” said Walter Musial, Senior Test Engineer at NWTC. When designing their overall testing program, researchers evaluated a number of condition monitoring technologies, including vibration-based systems. They were seeking tools that could meet their objectives for: monitoring dynamometer drive system and test article components, early detection and trending of mechanical component degradation, tracking dynamic component changes relative to load variations and isolating faults. Stress Wave Analysis proved superior for mechanical condition monitoring, and provided useful data for tracking changes in bearing, gear and lubrication performance throughout various test routines. Joe Carpenter, president and CEO of SWANTECH, says that a SWANview(TM) Desktop System is currently in use in the Golden, Colorado testing laboratory. “We’re pleased to work closely with the NWTC in its pioneering efforts for harnessing wind technology,” said Carpenter. “The SWAN data will be a tremendous tool for design improvements and effectiveness.” During endurance tests, SWANview sensors are attached to predetermined locations on the wind turbine drive system under study and connected to the SWANview PC. Then, the system is configured for the specific test application. The test is initiated and Stress Wave Energy (SWE(TM)) levels from the sensors are written to the test article database. Digital recordings are taken to determine origin of degrading components if SWE levels show an increase. Musial says that the results of the initial testing program have been encouraging. Data from the endurance testing has documented the gearbox test cycle from one manufacturer, and allowed test engineers to determine stress points and possible areas of concern within the drive. “We are helping manufacturers with specific information that will result in improved gearbox designs and increased productivity,” said Musial. He added that the Center plans to use the results of the overall testing program to assist in the advancement of turbine designs for the wind energy industry.
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