Characterization of Cascade gearbox for wave energy converter
This Master Thesis, written in collaboration with CorPower Ocean, serves as the finalization of the author’s master degree education at KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) Stockholm. The purpose has been to characterize the Cascade gearbox which is used to convert vertical motion induced by waves to rotational motion which powers generators in the company’s future wave energy power plant. The purpose was also to suggest future improvements and shed light on any problems discovered. The method for characterizing the Cascade gearbox was to conduct physical measurements of the load sharing in the inherently overdetermined geometrical design. These data were then used to calibrate a static as well as a dynamic model also developed for this thesis. Focus has been on determining that the novel load sharing method is sufficient and that no gear takes more than the 2,5% overload during max load the gearbox is dimensioned for at any time. Also included in the thesis is an analysis of the tolerances effect on the performance of the Cascade gearbox. Results showed that the current design perform within the expected dimensioning limits. However some unexpected characteristics were discovered after analysis of the results. Because of deliberate geometric decisions half of the gears trail behind initially in one direction causing uneven load sharing and unwanted lateral forces on the rack. Also discovered was the importance of equal stiffness of the flex units, used to divide the load evenly between the gears, since the load sharing factor converges towards values directly proportional to the stiffness ratios in between them. As a conclusion it can be said that although the current design is sufficient, there is still room for improvements which could enhance life expectancy as well as load sharing performance of the Cascade gearbox.
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