3MW drive train test facility

TiPTORs project delivers improved design processes for tidal turbines

Published 14 September 2015

The first phase of the Tidal Turbine Powertrain Reliability Project (TiPTORs), led by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, has delivered a ‘Design for Reliability’ (DfR) methodology which provides a robust and systematic approach to developing tidal turbine drivetrains.

The methodology, developed in partnership with Ricardo and DNV GL, allows designers to understand and control the factors influencing product reliability and hence operational performance, improving the detection of weak links at the design phase and significantly improving design optimisation.

Alongside the DfR methodology, specifications for both a reliability simulation tool and a component database have been produced in preparation for the next phase of the project, which will focus on accurately modelling components. The simulation tool will allow designers to ‘plug and play’ their designs, looking for any weaknesses at a turbine prototype development stage, enabling them to better predict reliability, degradation, and pinpoint potential failure. This will be linked to a cost model that will enable the quantification of benefit to support the decision making process.

Together, the DfR process and simulation tool will enable turbine designers to confidently select components and system architectures to optimise reliability. The ability to evaluate the overall system availability and reliability early in the design process and linking this to a cost model will establish greater confidence that the turbine will operate within required parameters delivering the predicted LCoE.

ORE Catapult Marine Sector Specialist Simon Cheeseman said:

“Improving the reliability of tidal turbine powertrains, and being able to iron out failure at the design stage, will significantly increase investor confidence in tidal turbine technology and ultimately reduce the cost of tidal energy to the consumer.

“The successful completion of Phase 1 of this project is a major step forward in understanding the ‘Physics of Failure’ in tidal turbines. Applying best practice from automotive, aerospace, wind, offshore oil & gas and defence sectors has enabled us to confidently quantify system reliability issues.

“The next stage of the project will be to test the DfR methodology across a range of tidal technologies. A follow-on programme will validate the methodology, develop the component database, create the prototype simulation tool, and develop a recommended practice. The goal is to ensure alignment and integration with industry and developers’ own design processes. At the same time ORE Catapult will look at advanced sensors application techniques linked to turbine control schemes, in order to boost health monitoring systems.”

Ricardo’s global market sector head for clean energy and power generation, Paul Jordan added “The application of these tools will represent a quantum change to existing design processes, providing turbine developers with greater confidence in achieving availability targets, significantly reducing unplanned maintenance whilst accelerating design optimisation.”

Claudio Bittencourt Ferreira, Business Development Director at DNV GL, said:

“Reliability is traditionally tackled through the application of experience and statistical data, both of which are extremely limited in the tidal industry. This project takes a new approach to provide a step change in our understanding of reliability and accelerating the learning curve so that the tidal sector moves smoothly into a commercially viable, bankable industry.”

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