Structural optimisation of permanent magnet direct drive generators for 5MW wind turbines
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This thesis focuses on permanent magnet "direct drive" electrical generators for wind turbines with large power output. A variety of such generator topologies is reviewed, tested and optimised in an attempt to increase their potential as commercial concepts for the wind industry. Direct drive electrical generators offer a reliable alternative to gearbox drivetrains. This novel technology reduces energy loses thus allowing more energy to be yield from the wind and decreases the maintenance cost at the same time. A fundamental issue for these generators is their large size which makes them difficult to manufacture, transport and assembly. A number of structural designs have been suggested in the literature in an attempt to minimise this attribute. A set of design tools are set out in an attempt to investigate the structural stiffness of the different permanent magnet direct drive generator topologies against a number of structural stresses that apply to such wind turbine energy converters. Optimisation techniques, both analytical and structural, are also developed for minimising the total mass of a variety of "directly driven" machines with power output of 5MW or greater. Conventional and promising generator designs are modelled and optimised with the use of these optimisation techniques. The topologies under examination are then compared in terms of structural mass, stiffness and cost. As the number of wind turbine manufactures who adopt the direct drive concept increases, it is important to outline the unique characteristics of the different topologies and increase their manufacturing potential. Discussions and conclusions will provide an indication of the design solutions that could help decrease the mass and cost of such machines.