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Connected to the test bench drive is the hydraulic load application, which uses six hydraulic cylinders to transfer forces and momentums to the test piece. An electrical depiction of the grid is created in the converter room behind.
© Fraunhofer IWES/IDOM
Wind energy: DyNaLab testing facility

Simulation: A test piece for a wind turbine nacelle is driven into the 30 metre-high testing hall on a heavy-load transporter. The yellow lifting frame can raise loads of up to 420 tonnes.
© Fraunhofer IWES/IDOM

The test bench drive with a 10 megawatt drive capacity can be seen to the left of the image on a concrete foundation. The nacelle is fixed to the foundation via a pallet system.
© Fraunhofer IWES/IDOM

Nacelles on the test bench

In Germany it will soon be possible to test entire nacelles for wind turbines with outputs of up to 10 megawatts. For this purpose, Fraunhofer IWES laid the foundation stone for the DyNaLab testing facility last Friday. This is scheduled to begin operation in 2014.

In addition to complete rotor blades, the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) will also be able to test entire nacelles for wind turbines. With DyNaLab (Dynamic Nacelle Laboratory), Germany will for the first time have a nacelle testing facility in the multi-megawatt range that will be available to all wind turbine manufacturers from 2014. Turbine manufacturers will be able to conduct informative laboratory tests on this facility to assess and optimise existing and future components and concepts.
“The testing infrastructure, which can depict almost the entire complexity of wind turbine systems in a realistic manner, also provides the basis for new approaches for cutting edge research projects that will benefit the entire wind industry,” explains institute head Professor Andreas Reuter.

Testing nacelles in series

The technical reliability of the nacelles, which can weigh up to 400 tonnes, considerably determines the overall grid availability. Manufacturers currently still construct a prototype wind turbine for each new development, which is a very time-consuming and expensive procedure. The DyNaLab testing facility at Fraunhofer IWES is therefore intended to test nacelles of up to 10 MW ‘in series’. A standard procedure is to monitor the drive train. The system consists of around 6 to 8 sensors – such as on the main bearing, gearbox and generator. The condition monitoring system (CMS) perceives even the smallest shocks and records, for example, when the gearwheel set temporarily receives too little oil. The data is then transmitted to monitoring centres. There it is determined whether there is a need to take action and at what point. This in turn should enable the downtimes to be reduced, the safety, reliability and economic efficiency to be improved, and the service life of the turbines to be increased. It should also enable serial damage to components to be identified at an early stage.

Modularisation and standardisation

In order to compete in an increasingly international manufacturer market and achieve the ambitious political goals for the further expansion of wind energy, it is not just the technical properties that provide an important factor but also the investment costs. A development trend that has also brought success in other industrial sectors is modularisation and standardisation, particularly in regards to gearless turbines in the two-to-three megawatt output range. The aim of future work in this area is to develop and validate interface definitions for drive train components and turbine subsystems together with industry and research partners.

Collaboration and funding

The technical requirements for this testing and experiment platform were defined in close collaboration with the wind energy industry and research and development partners. Another focus in future will be on technology developments and industry-based research concerned with the mechatronic subsystem drive train. 30 million euros in funding is being provided for DyNaLab by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the EU as part of its ERDF programme and the Federal State of Bremen.



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