Superconducting Drive Train

Project Details


Project vision:
The trend in the wind turbine development is illustrated in the Fig.1. Permanent magnets (PM) have enabled progress of technology in many areas and most recently, the wind turbines drive trains. The cost of Rare Earth Elements (RE) is increasing steadily with the demand, and it is expected that this will continue in coming years. Fig.2 illustrates the disproportion of the need for RE from application to application. With the amount of RE used in one PM direct drive 3MW wind turbine the equivalent RE usage would correspond to several hundred all-electric cars, thousands of IT (electronics and LCDs) units or kilometers and kilometers of optical fibers. Thus, RE usage will be a critical element in the development of low cost clean energy.
The fact that a Superconducting drive train intended for a large offshore wind turbine will use at the most 1000 times less RE than an equivalent PM drive train and in addition will have higher power density, represents the unique opportunity being explored with this project. It is a shared vision of the partners of this application that the RE independence of the Superconducting drive train is the enabling factor towards a stable low cost of clean energy.
Purpose of the project:
The increase in the size of the turbines is a necessity grounded in the economy of the offshore market. Yet, conventional drive trains (including PM drive train) have failed to provide a suitable solution so far. After analysis of the turbine market, it is concluded that the drive train solution based on RE has inherent risks with supply chain and cost insurance.
This project proposes a new machine type, a machine with Superconducting windings, as a way of increasing the power density of the whole drive train with nearly no RE requirements. By studying performance and characterization of
superconductors available on the market, this project will create a pool of knowledge on available High Temperature Superconductors (HTS), coils and machine designs. The performance of the proposed design for an HTS coil and HTS winding structure shall be experimentally tested and verified on a laboratory scale HTS machine setup inherited from the Superwind project. All gained hands-on experience and knowledge learned in the process of design and construction of the experiments will be applied to the full size fully defined HTS design of the drive train for 4MW to 10MW wind turbines.
The final outcome of the project is a full-size fully defined design of Superconducting drive train for a large wind turbine. A scaled down prototype will also be presented, after which it will be decided if construction of the full-size prototype should proceed. A number of recommendation/design proposals will be generated and verified in the experimental and design phase of the project which may be patentable. Thus, it is expected that the project will
contribute to the maturity of the superconducting drive train and superconducting machine design technology in general.
Effective start/end date01/05/201230/04/2015


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