Advancement of direct drive generator systems for offshore renewable energy production
Burchell, Joseph William
As machine topologies and technologies mature, the fundamental function of the device is honed. Direct drive machines have the potential to launch the renewable energy sector into a new era of large scale, reliable, offshore power generation. With advancements in new technologies, such as superconductivity, the reduction of generator mass due to incorporation of machine and device structures, the continued advancements in component and system reliability; direct drive generators have the ability to outsize geared wind systems and simplify submerged linear and rotary power generation. The research held within this thesis will focus on improving direct drive power take off systems for offshore renewable energy power generation by splitting the area into four parts. The first part will discuss the various methods of energy extraction within the offshore and marine environment. The future of the sector will be discussed, and a forecast of technological advancement and existing reliability issues will be provided based on current data. The second part will focus on drive trains and direct drive generators, assessing the current topologies and suggesting alternatives that may thrive in a variety of large and small offshore renewable machines. The third part investigates the application of novel linear bearings in direct drive systems for offshore and submerged operation. A brief study of the loads found in wave applications will be presented and the testing of several polymer bearing materials will be outlined. The final part will discuss the potential benefits of flooding the airgap of a direct drive generator with sea water for marine applications. Results will be presented from two linear test rigs and the marinisation of devices will conclude the report.