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DYNAMIC SIMULATION OF A WINDTURBINE SYSTEM CALCULATING VIBRATIONS, LOADS, DURABILITY AND ACOUSTIC RESPONSE IN A SINGLE CAE ENVIRONMENT

Guillaume Leth (guillaume.lethe@lmsintl.com), Dan Kinne*, Iurie Terna LMS International, CAE Division, Interleuvenlaan 68, 3001 Leuven, Belgium *LMS International, CAE Division, 2651 Crosspark Road, Coralville, IA 52241, USA

Summary
Multi-megawatt installations have to withstand extreme wind loading situations while providing high reliability. Extensive testing of the many dynamic load cases for certification is difficult, timeconsuming and expensive. Manufacturers need detailed and efficient dynamic simulation methods to optimize and speed up the validation of their new designs. Specific challenges in wind turbine simulation include correct modeling of aero-elastic wind loads and automated running and postprocessing of many load cases. The LMS multi-body software recently validated the integration of the NREL Aerodyn routine allowing simulations of wind turbine operating under standard IEC conditions. Accurate simulation also requires correct modeling of the drive train, the generator, structural flexibility and integration of the control algorithms. The predicted transient dynamic loads are further used as input for subsequent fatigue-life and acoustic response calculations in the single LMS Virtual.Lab CAE environment. Keywords: 3D multi-body virtual simulation, Aerodyn wind loads, Structural Flexibility, Controls

1. Introduction
Ever larger wind turbine designs have to withstand extreme wind loading situations while providing high reliability. Extensive tests on full scale wind turbines are extremely expensive or dangerous to conduct hence manufacturers heavily rely on simulation throughout the development process. Wind turbine dynamic simulation requires correct modeling of wind loads on the rotor, the drive train, the generator, including structural flexibility and controls. One of the critical aspects of the simulation resides in correct modeling of aero-elastic wind loads and automated running and postprocessing of many load cases. This is achieved thanks to the integration of the Aerodyn routine from the NREL organization into LMS Virtual.Lab Motion and thanks to the possibilities provided for automating the running and reporting of results within that environment. The calculation of the wind loads is done in a coupled way based on the instantaneous state of the blade elements

and wind conditions. The modeling of the blades includes distributed inertial and stiffness properties in both flapwise and edgewise directions as well as aerodynamic characteristics. The blade is then substructured in several sections to which the wind loads are applied. Wind pattern used for dynamic simulations can be constant or variable in space and time, including shear and wake effects as well as turbulences characteristics when available. Standard IEC conditions to verify the structural robustness and validate the dynamic behavior of the wind turbine are also presented in this paper and results compared to results obtained from a known 1D dedicated software, namely Bladed. Dynamic results can additionally easily be used as input for subsequent fatigue-life and acoustic response calculations.

2. Wind to rotor-blade interactions


The critical aspect of the proposed approach resides in the correct modeling of

aero-elastic wind loads suited for industrial applications. To satisfy the required level of fidelity of the simulations, it is very important to accurately model the blades aerodynamic and structural characteristics, the wind field as well as the interaction of this wind with the blades.

2.1 Airfoils and blade definition


First of all it is needed to define several airfoils that will be used by the Aerodyn routine to compute wind loads on the blades. The airfoils input file contains among other the following data: the location of the center of the blade section measured from the blade root, the twist angle, the spanwise width, the chord of the blade section and an ID number that determines to which airfoil the blade section belongs [1]. Eventually each airfoil also needs to be defined with the following data: the angle of attack (independent coordinate, from -180 to + 180 degrees), lift, drag and pitch moment coefficients [2]. On the structural side, one also needs to define the flexibility of the blade and several approaches are available. The first one is a pure rigid body but is not very suited for blades as they undergo non-linear deformations. Another approach is to model the blade as a sequence of rigid bodies connected with 6 d.o.f. stiffeners acting as equivalent beams. However the Finite Element approach using beam theory (Fig.1) seemed more appropriate to us even when non-linear deformations cannot be accounted for. The flexible modes can be derived form a pure geometric representation or taken from modal vibration measurements in the field.

It is then needed to provide to the routine the wind data. This data can represent a hub-height wind or a full-field turbulent wind [3]. In the latter case, preprocessing tools such as Turbsim [4] or IECwind [5] are used to generate a data file in the required format. The hub height wind requires the following information: time (independent coordinate), horizontal and vertical wind speed, wind direction, vertical (and horizontal) shear. The full-field wind data represent all three components of the wind vector varying in space and time and permits more detailed simulations by including appropriate scales and correlation of atmospheric turbulence.

2.3 Wind to rotor-blade interaction


To finish the integration of wind loads on blades it is necessary to map the data used in the Aerodyn routine (dimensional and aerodynamic characteristics of the blade and wind data) and by the multi-body solver (structural characteristics of the blade and wind turbine layout). This is simply done trough the use of several axis systems defined in an appropriate way in the multibody model.

3. Other components of the turbine


LMS Virtual.Lab Motion helps engineers to model all components of a typical multi-megawatt turbine, assemble them in a modular and scalable way and predict the system behavior under realistic operating conditions.

3.1 The hub and the nacelle


The critical loads acting on a wind turbine are mainly due to fluctuations in speed and direction of the wind and by the starting and stopping of the system. A critical component is the hub supporting the blades as well as the nacelle supporting the complete mechanism, to not cite shaft or bearing parts. Those parts are modeled in scalable level of details depending on the analysis being executed. To have insight in the fatigue-life of those components, it is critical to get accurate loading and hence detailed modeling. A fully integrated process

Fig.1: representation of the flexible blade under static loading and deflected up to 3m at the tip

2.2 Wind field or load cases definition

allows analysis of durability performance once dynamic results are available from the simulation. Starting from the dynamic loads calculated trough the multi-body technique, the VL Durability solver computes internal loading on the components such as the rotor hub (Fig.2) or the full housing [6]. A global load spectrum formulated from individual events repetition is then used to simulate 20 years of use. The results clearly give insight to possible hotspots where a crack may initiate in the material.

Fig.2: fatigue on the hub due to loading from blades and main shaft

3.2 The gearbox and the drive train


The engineering of the gearbox provides a true challenge to manufacturers. In a standard wind turbine the +1000kNm input torque has to be transferred to the generator with a higher rotating speed. This is typically done through a 3-stage gearbox design (Fig.3) including one or more planetary stages. In-service misalignment of the shafts caused by the compliance effects influence the contact between gears causing unwanted wear and failures. Tonal noise is also an engineering problem that is analyzed and enhanced within the LMS software.

The LMS multi-body simulation software provides several methods to model the meshing of gears. The most suited method is the analytical one and is applicable to any gear pair (spur or helical, external or internal). It accounts for an equivalent variable meshing stiffness according to the Cai and ISO formulations and provides good accuracy for system-level simulation with very short calculation times. More detailed formulation of the gear contact taking into account the micro-geometry correction such as lead and involute crowns and exact tooth bending based on FE calculations have been developed [7] as well. As said, the tonal noise generated in wind turbines tends to originate from mechanical and electrical equipment due to the rotation of components as the gearbox and the generator. Dynamic forces, e.g. on the gearbox bearings, cause gearbox housing surface vibrations, which distribute noise to the surrounding area through radiation (Fig.4). The noise generated by the drive train also propagates directly through structural noise paths [8].

Fig.4: noise radiated from a wind turbine trough different structural paths and due to rotating machinery

3.3 The connexion to the grid and control system


It is finally also important to model the connection of the generator to the electric grid to account for the electromagnetic resisting torque acting on the high speed shaft of the drive train. The generator and connection to the grid was done using a 1D model inside the LMS Imagine.Lab Amesim software as show below (Fig.5).

Fig.3: a typical 3-stage gearbox design with planetary gears

characteristics: NTM07, turbulence (Fig. 6).

m/s,

with

Fig.5: Generator and connection to the power-grid of the wind turbine in Imagine.Lab AMESim

The performance of advanced mechanical system designs like wind turbines relies on an optimal interaction of subsystems. The control systems are designed with standard tools such as AMESim or Simulink and are integrated in the multi-body simulation scheme. These systems mainly control the pitch and yaw angles of the blade and nacelle and integrate algorithms to optimize the power output of the plant while keeping it secure from any dangerous situations such as gust wind or emergency stop.

4. Simulation Results
Dynamic simulations as nominal power production with laminar or turbulent wind, start-up, emergency stop or extreme operating gust are finally automatically run and results are provided trough preconfigured template plots. Results in graphics and animations enable engineers to compare several design variants and select the most suited one. The so-called design tables, defined in MS Excel, provide an extremely easy and efficient way to parameterize the system and quickly perform those design or load case variants analyses. We present here the results of two load cases: the first being operation of the turbine under turbulent wind and the second simulating an extreme operating gust. For each simulation we show the torque generated and compare it with the reference results from an equivalent model in Bladed. The first simulation has following

Fig.6: Torque generated and rotor speed for the NTM07 Load case with turbulent wind, comparison of Bladed and VL Motion results

As we can see from the above graphs the wind data are mostly the same and results in the rotor speed and generated torque are matching overall very well. There is still some offset observed at the beginning of the simulation and this could be due to inertial effects or level of damping in the components. Also the way the system is controlled might play a role an more investigations will answer the question. The other simulation has following characteristics: EOG01, 12 m/s, amplitude 8.13 m/s. Horizontal wind direction 0 , Vertical wind direction 8 vertical wind shear , exponent 0.2 (Fig.7).

Fig.7: Torque generated for the EOG01 Load case comparison of Bladed and VL Motion results

assessment. Critical hot-spots with higher stresses, fatigue-life cycles or damages are located and corresponding responsible loads or dynamic events can be traced to enhance the structural reliability. Accurate loading in bearings may also be seamlessly used as input for acoustic response analysis of the gearbox housing during a complete run-up or transient event and noise levels be predicted. Overall and multi-attribute performance of the system may finally be optimized thanks to the optimization toolkit integrated to Virtual.Lab.

From the above results we see that the torque generated without using controlled wind turbine (but kinematically driven pitch angle) doesnt give appreciable results. This is because of the infinite stiffness introduced in the model. We see that using feedback is already much better and the remaining differences can be explained by some difference between compared models: inertias as well as torsional stiffness and damping of drive train shafts are guessed to not be fully the same. More simulations will further validate the Aerodyn integration into Virtual.Lab Motion. It could also be that the Multibody approach yields more accurate results than the Bladed one, but this should then be further validated across various software results.

6. Future work and enhancements


Future work will include the enhancement of the modeling of flexible blades to account for non-linear deformations, the modeling of the direct wind on the tower structure, and the modeling of wind turbines in various off-shore conditions. Other work may focus on even more detailed gearbox and bearing modeling in order to generate even more accurate loading to be used as input for fatigue-life or acoustic response analyses.

7. Conclusions
LMS 3D multi-body simulation software integrated the NREL Aerodyn routine to provide a way of generating accurate wind loads and dynamic results of a standard wind turbine model including interaction between flexible blades and the wind field under standard IEC wind conditions. Simulated events include nominal power production with laminar or turbulent wind, start-up, emergency stop or extreme operating gust. The obtained results were compared with results from the specialized 1D Bladed software for an equivalent wind turbine system. These results have proven to match together while Virtual.Lab Motion results was capable to provide more insights of the dynamic events being simulated. The integrated simulation capabilities offer an efficient solution to analyze and optimize the dynamics, durability and acoustic performance of detailed wind turbine

5. Advantages approach

of

the

proposed

The proposed approach of using 3D simulation environment reside in the fact that critical components can be modeled in a higher level of details than with simulation environment such as Bladed or Flex 5 that furthermore only allows 28 degrees-offreedom in the system. This results in higher accuracy, more scalability and better engineering insight. Based on the above simulations, more analyses may indeed be performed. Accuracy of the modeling and of the solver e.g. allows tracking higher frequency content and detailed local behavior in the system under operation. For example, stresses in the flexible shafts or hub or in the bearings may be further analyzed and seamlessly processed for fatigue-life

models without limitation in the number of dofs being used. Moreover, the single integrated environment enables to quickly analyze the effect of design changes on a specific performance attribute, while the modeling-solving-reporting process can be entirely automated for even more productivity.

8. References
[1] David J. Laino, A. Craig Hansen. Users guide, Wind Turbine Aerodynamics Computer Software, AeroDyn. Windward Engineering LC, prepared for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2008, Section 6. [2] Id. Section 9 [3] Id. Section 7 and 8 [4] B.J. Jonkman and M.L. Buhl, Jr. Users guide, Turbsim, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2008. [5] David J. Laino. Users guide, IECWind, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah, 2008. [6] LMS helps Moventas increase testing efficiency in developing wind turbine gearboxes, LMS Application case [7] Guillaume Lethe and al. Simulating dynamics, durability and noise emission of wind turbines in a single CAE Environment, proceedings from the ACMD conference, Jeju, South Korea, August 2008. [8] Building a robust path at GE wind for virtual wind turbine design, LMS Application case