Structural reliability analysis of contact fatigue design of gears in wind turbine drivetrains
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries. 2020, 65 . 10.1016/j.jlp.2020.104115
Advances in the design of large scale wind turbines have raised an interest for more optimized life cycle design of mechanical components (e.g. gears, bearings, shafts, etc.), with a better understanding of their performance over time. Development of the non-systematic, often deterministic design methods followed by the application of corresponding design standards that incorporate experience from current common practice have managed to produce mechanical components that comply with minimum safety requirements. However, such approaches cannot achieve optimized mechanical components, neither account for the performance over their service lives. Reliability-based design currently represents the most advanced method in order to achieve the targets mentioned above, by explicitly considering uncertainty of design variables. This paper describes a structural reliability method (SRM) for fatigue analysis of mechanical components of wind turbines. The method is based on the ‘so-called’ limit state functions of relevant failure modes. Two gear tooth fatigue failure modes (surface and subsurface pitting) were considered. The method is exemplified by a time-domain based gear contact fatigue analysis of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's 750 kW land-based wind turbine. The sensitivity of the reliability index on some random parameters used for reliability-based gear contact fatigue analysis is estimated. The effect of inspection on reliability analysis is also briefly investigated.