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Using transfer path analysis to assess the influence of bearings on structural vibrations of a wind turbine gearbox



Noise and vibration issues can be dealt with using several approaches. Using the source–transfer path–receiver approach, a vibration issue could be solved by attenuating the source, modifying the transfer path or by influencing the receiver. Applying this approach on a wind turbine gearbox would respectively correspond with lowering the gear excitation levels, modifying the gearbox housing or by trying to isolate the gearbox from the rest of the wind turbine.

This paper uses a combination of multi-body modelling and typical transfer path analysis (TPA) to investigate the impact of bearings on the total transfer path and the resulting vibration levels. Structural vibrations are calculated using a flexible multi-body model of a three-stage wind turbine gearbox. Because the high-speed mesh is often the main source of vibrations, focus is put on the four bearings of this gear stage. The TPA method using structural vibration simulation results shows which bearing position is responsible for transmitting the highest excitation levels from the gears to the gearbox housing structure.

Influences of bearing stiffness values and bearing damping values on the resulting vibration levels are investigated by means of a parameter sensitivity study and are confirmed with the results from the TPA. Because both the TPA and the parameter sensitivity analysis revealed a big influence on radial stiffness for a certain bearing, this was investigated in more detail and showed the big importance of correct axial bearing position.

The main conclusions of this paper are that the total vibration behaviour of a wind turbine gearbox can be altered significantly by changing both bearing properties such as stiffness, damping and position, and bearing support stiffness. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.