Validation of a Generalized Formulation for Load Sharing Behavior in Epicyclic Gears for Wind Turbines
In an ideal epicyclic gear set, every parallel gear path transmits the same amount of torque. However, it is well known that certain manufacturing variations result in unequal load sharing between the parallel gear paths. Previous works have developed and validated a general closed-form analytical model of this phenomenon that describes the load sharing characteristics of epicyclic gear sets from three to six planets at any torque level. More recently, this analytical model has been reformulated to include the effects of gravity, carrier bearing clearance, and external applied moments, all of which are relevant to most gearboxes and their mounting configuration in horizontal-axis wind turbines. In this paper, the reformulated model is compared to load measurements collected from two similar wind turbine gearboxes with three-planet epicyclic gear sets. The resulting load sharing values are also compared to the mesh load factor requirements in the AGMA 6006 and IEC 61400-4 wind turbine gearbox design standards. Load sharing factors as high as 1.16 at extreme rotor moments and 1.08 with no moment were measured for the gearbox with cylindrical roller bearings, but the load sharing factor remained below 1.10 for the gearbox with tapered roller bearings. Results show that in the wind turbine application, load sharing is not equal—even for three-planet systems with a floating central member because of the effects of gravity, rotor moments, and the resulting relative motions among the epicyclic gear components within the carrier bearing clearance.
Authors: Yi Guo, & Jonathan Keller
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