Improving Wind Turbine Drivetrain Designs to Minimize the Impacts of Non-Torque Loads

Yi Guo, Jeroen van Dam, Roger Bergua, Jordi Jove, Jon Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus Citations


Non-torque loads induced by the wind turbine rotor overhang weight and aerodynamic forces can greatly affect drivetrain loads and responses. If not addressed properly, these loads can result in a decrease in gearbox component life. This work uses analytical modeling, computational modeling and experimental approaches to evaluate two distinct drivetrain designs that minimize the effects of non-torque loads on gearbox reliability: a modified three-point suspension drivetrain studied by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Gearbox Reliability Collaborative (GRC) and the Pure Torque® drivetrain developed by Alstom. In the original GRC drivetrain, the unequal planetary load distribution and sharing were present and they can lead to gear tooth pitting and reduce the lives of the planet bearings. The NREL GRC team modified the original design of its drivetrain by changing the rolling element bearings in the planetary gear stage. In this modified design, gearbox bearings in the planetary gear stage are anticipated to transmit non-torque loads directly to the gearbox housing rather than the gears. Alstom's Pure Torque drivetrain has a hub support configuration that transmits non-torque loads directly into the tower rather than through the gearbox as in other design approaches. An analytical model of Alstom's Pure Torque drivetrain provides insight into the relationships among turbine component weights, aerodynamic forces and the resulting drivetrain loads. In Alstom's Pure Torque drivetrain, main shaft bending loads are orders of magnitude lower than the rated torque and hardly affected by wind speed, gusts or turbine operations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2199-2222
Number of pages24
JournalWind Energy
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-60935


  • drivetrain
  • non-torque loads
  • pure torque
  • three-point suspension
  • wind turbine


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