Romax Technology is to receive funding as part of a Department of Energy (DOE) funded project titled "Next Generation Medium Speed Drivetrain Development for U.S. Land-Based and Off-Shore Wind Turbines". The project, headed by the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has a budget of $700,000 for Phase I, with Romax awarded a proportion of that to apply its mechanical design expertise to develop a technically advanced medium speed gearbox.
The project aims to reduce the cost of wind energy through increased efficiency and reliability in key wind turbine components. Gearbox failures have been a problem, yet the gearbox is a reliable workhorse for many industries, as it brings a fundamental advantage by increasing shaft speeds and thus reducing generator size. The project aims to develop the optimum gearbox and generator combination to minimize capital, replacement and overhaul and operation and maintenance costs.
Already part of NREL's Gearbox Reliability Collaborative, Romax will lead the mechanical team to investigate the application of advanced technologies for the development of reliable medium speed gearboxes. The gearbox will also drive a novel generator, with increased efficiency and reliability, making the whole turbine more competitive in energy generation.
The outcomes of the project will be shared with the U.S. wind industry at large and, if successful, has the potential to influence the design process of wind turbine drivetrains. In turn, it is hoped that this will result in a new generation of more efficient turbines, and aid in wind energy's progression as a low cost, low carbon solution to America's electricity demand.
Ashley Crowther, Vice President of Engineering at Romax's U.S. Technical Centre commented, "This is a fantastic opportunity to apply our proven gearbox design experience to addressing some of the key challenges of the wind industry today. Working alongside NREL and the other project members, we will strive to make significant advancements in the efficiency and reliability of new generation medium speed machines."