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Title: Holistic physics-of-failure approach to wind turbine power converter reliability
Author: Smith, Christopher John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 3053
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2018
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As the cost of wind energy becomes of increasing importance to the global surge of clean and green energy sources, the reliability-critical power converter is a target for vast improvements in availability through dedicated research. To this end, this thesis concentrates on providing a new holistic approach to converter reliability research to facilitate reliability increasing, cost reducing innovations unique to the wind industry. This holistic approach combines both computational and physical experimentation to provide a test bench for detailed reliability analysis of the converter power modules under the unique operating conditions of the wind turbine. The computational models include a detailed permanent magnet synchronous generator wind turbine with a power loss and thermal model representing the machine side converter power module response to varying wind turbine conditions. The supporting experimental test rig consists of an inexpensive, precise and extremely fast temperature measurement approach using a PbSe photoconductive infra-red sensor unique in the wind turbine reliability literature. This is used to measure spot temperatures on a modified power module to determine the junction temperature swings experienced during current cycling. A number of key conclusions have been made from this holistic approach. -Physics-of-failure analysis (and indeed any wind turbine power converter based reliability analysis) requires realistic wind speed data as the temporal changes in wind speed have a significant impact on the thermal loading on the devices. -The use of drive train modelling showed that the current throughput of the power converter is decoupled from the incoming wind speed due to drive train dynamics and control. Therefore, the power converter loading cannot be directly derived from the wind speed input without this modelling. -The minimum wind speed data frequency required for sufficiently accurate temperature profiles was determined, and the use of SCADA data for physics-of failure reliability studies was subsequently shown to be entirely inadequate. -The experimental emulation of the power converter validated a number of the aspects of the simulation work including the increase in temperature with wind speed and the detectability of temperature variations due to the current's fundamental frequency. Most importantly, this holistic approach provides an ideal test bench for optimising power converter designs for wind turbine, or for other industries with stochastic loading, conditions whilst maintaining or exceeding present reliability levels to reduce wind turbine's cost of energy, and therefore, society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available