Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Name

MS in Engineering

Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Patrick Lemieux

Abstract

The balancing of a wind turbine rotor is a crucial step affecting the machine’s performance, reliability, and safety, as it directly impacts the dynamic loads on the entire structure.

A rotor can be balanced either statically or dynamically. A method of rotor balancing was developed that achieves both the simplicity of static balancing and the accuracy of dynamic balancing. This method is best suited, but not limited, to hollow composite blades of any size. The method starts by quantifying the mass and center of gravity of each blade. A dynamic calculation is performed to determine the theoretical shaking force on the rotor shaft at the design operating speed. This force is converted to a net counterbalance mass required for each blade. Despite the most careful methodology, there may still be large errors associated with these measurements and calculations. Therefore, this new method includes a physical verification of each blade’s individual balance against all other blades on the rotor, with the ability to quantify the discrepancy between blades, and make all balance adjustments in situ. The balance weights are aluminum plugs of varying lengths inserted into the root of each blade with a threaded steel rod running through the middle. The balance adjustment is thus not visible from outside. The weight of the plug and rod represent the coarse counterbalance of each blade, based on the dynamic calculations. The threaded steel rod acts as a fine adjustment on the blades’ mass moment when traveled along the plug. A dedicated blade-balance apparatus, designed and constructed in-house, is used to verify and fine-tune each individual blade and compare it to all other blades on the rotor. The resulting blade assembly is verified on a full rotor static balancing apparatus. The full rotor apparatus measures the steady state tilt of the rotor when balanced on a point. Next, the rotors' tilt is related to its overall level of imbalance with quantifiable error. Most error comes from the fact that the hub, comparable in mass to the blades, creates a false righting moment of the assembly not present in operation. The fully assembled rotor is tested, pre and post balance, in operation on the turbine at a series of predetermined speeds. This is accomplished with a 3-axis accelerometer mounted on the main turbine shaft bearing and a control system which regulates and records turbine speed at 100 Hz