MTS Technology Enables Innovation in Offshore Renewable Energy (UK)
MTS Systems Corporation, a leading global supplier of high-performance test systems and position sensors, has announced that the MTS Non-Torque Loading (NTL) System has been installed and accepted at the 3MW Drive Train Test Facility (3 megawatt) of the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec), located in Blyth, Northumberland, UK.
The MTS NTL system is used to apply complex, real-world loads to full-scale tidal and wind turbines to gain critical insight into their reliability and durability.
“The NTL system employs state-of-the art MTS hydraulics and controls to introduce very large off-axis (or non-torque) forces and moments into a rotating turbine drive train with a high degree of precision,” said Dr. Rich Baker, general manager of MTS Test. “This allows turbine developers to accurately replicate a wide range of tidal and wind events in controlled laboratory settings, accelerating the development and validation of new turbine designs.”
The advantages of the NTL system are particularly evident when compared to traditional testing methods for prototype tidal renewable offshore turbines. Previously, tidal turbine testing required undersea deployment and observation of the turbine’s performance over an extended 12-month period. In addition to being both costly and time-consuming, this method was non-repeatable and yielded limited usable data.
“With the NTL systems from MTS, we can replicate a one-in-100-year tidal event or a one-in-100-year wind event at will,” said Tony Quinn, Director of Operations at Narec. “We can recreate wind or tidal forces in three orthogonal axes, and we can apply a force along any axis or a bending moment around any axis in three dimensions simultaneously. We can use a time history to subject turbine designs to 10 years’ worth of real-world events in just six months.”
A second drive train test facility – with a 15MW input capacity – is scheduled to open at Narec this summer, and will employ an even larger NTL system from MTS than the one currently running at the 3MW facility. While the 3MW facility is particularly suited to tidal turbine drive trains, the 15MW facility has been developed for testing larger offshore wind turbine drive trains.
“Improving the reliability and durability of turbine drive trains is critical to the future of wind and tidal energy,” said Dr. Jeffrey Graves, MTS president and CEO. “Our work with Narec is helping manufacturers reduce the cost and time needed to develop the robust new designs that will ensure the long-term economic viability of these important sources of clean, renewable energy.”
Press release, March 19, 2013; Image: MTS