Linear generators for direct drive marine renewable energy converters
This thesis is concerned with the development of linear generators for use as the power take off mechanism in marine renewable energy converters. Delivering significant power at the low velocities demanded by wave and tidal stream energy converters requires a large force, which must be reacted by an electrical machine in a direct drive system. Attention is focused on the development of two novel topology linear permanent magnet machines suitable for use in this application. For each topology, models are presented that are capable of predicting the force characteristics and dynamic generator performance. The models, which are verified experimentally, reveal significant behavioural differences between the two topologies. The designer is thus provided with an interesting choice when considering a direct drive power take off strategy. In short, a variable reluctance machine is shown to develop a high shear force in its airgap, offering the potential of a compact generator, yet its performance is hindered by a poor power factor and the presence of significant airgap closure forces. The second machine, an air cored stator encompassing a permanent magnet translator, is shown to lend itself favourably as a generator, but only at the expense of requiring a large quantity of magnetic material and developing a significantly lower shear stress. Mechanical issues involved in the direct integration of linear electrical machines into the marine environment are examined. Details of two existing marine renewable energy devices are used to hypothesise about the characteristics of realistic sized generators of both the topologies investigated. Direct drive power take off is shown to represent a feasible alternative to the complex systems frequently proposed in these applications.