Gearbox Reliability Collaborative Analytic Formulation for the Evaluation of Spline Couplings

Yi Guo, Jonathan Keller, Robert Errichello, Chris Halse

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Gearboxes in wind turbines have not been achieving their expected design life; however, they commonly meet and exceed the design criteria specified in current standards in the gear, bearing, and wind turbine industry as well as third-party certification criteria. The cost of gearbox replacements and rebuilds, as well as the down time associated with these failures, has elevated the cost of windenergy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Gearbox Reliability Collaborative (GRC) was established by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2006; its key goal is to understand the root causes of premature gearbox failures and improve their reliability using a combined approach of dynamometer testing, field testing, and modeling. As part of the GRC program, this paper investigates thedesign of the spline coupling often used in modern wind turbine gearboxes to connect the planetary and helical gear stages. Aside from transmitting the driving torque, another common function of the spline coupling is to allow the sun to float between the planets. The amount the sun can float is determined by the spline design and the sun shaft flexibility subject to the operational loads.Current standards address spline coupling design requirements in varying detail. This report provides additional insight beyond these current standards to quickly evaluate spline coupling designs.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages40
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-60637


  • coupling
  • gearboxes
  • spline


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