Mechanical solutions in wind, tidal and solar power
Centa Transmissions has applied its expertise in mechanical solutions for wind power generators to deliver power transmission systems for a new generation of tidal energy plant.
Centa Transmissions reports that its power transmission products have helped to create a new underwater tidal power generation plant. This production of energy from the tides is one of Centa's active projects and just one element of its 'Tidal and Wave Portfolio', as it works with companies around the world to address the challenges of global warming, climate change, sustainability and soaring energy costs. Centa is presently working with various scientific, marine, manufacturing and university partners in the UK, Western Europe and Scandinavia, producing systems that generate electricity from the natural power of the sea.
The new tidal plant combines many of Centa's products in its design. Planetary gearboxes, cyclo precision gears and special bevel gearboxes combine with electro-magnetic clutches, electrically insulating Centalink shafts, powerful Sibre disc brakes, specially designed 'Centa freewheels' and electromagnetic clutches, to create a truly bespoke solution. The Freewheels are a new Centa innovation that stop the plant from reversing its rotation as the tides change direction.
All this innovative technology is translated from several thousand successful wind turbine applications. Centa says its strength is in the integration of innovative, high performance products. Gears division manager Michael Sykes comments: "We start with the initial design and then integrate the most suitable Centa products until we arrive at the optimum solution."
The company has over 30 years experience in power transmission systems for wind energy, and has long been a market leader in the supply of couplings to connect the gear to the generator. More recently, as the ratings of wind turbines have reached the MW range, the Centalink has become the leading flexible shaft between the gear and generator, meeting the needs of over 15,000 applications worldwide. And the company's Centadisc-C - a strong and lightweight composite shaft - is also finding applications in wind power.
Centadisc-C is predominantly used in ships and boats, and in applications that demand long span shaft drives with reliable, bearing free, low maintenance operation. It has also been successfully used in deep well water extraction and has proved to be a highly versatile solution to any substantial drive problem. For use in wind turbines, Centadisc-C is normally employed to connect the turbine speed increasing gearbox and the generator, but can also be installed between the turbine blade nacelle and the speed increasing gearbox.
Centa flexible shafts can be combined with the Centa Torque Hub on the generator shaft or with the Centa Torque Set integrated into the tube (either steel or GFRP tube). The Torque Hub and Torque Set are torque limiters that will slip at a certain, preset torque. Thus peak torques are cut out and the drive train - gear and generator - will be protected against dangerous overloads, as required by the EON rules. Both designs guarantee that the slip, or the relative movement, will always occur on components provided by Centa and will never cause damage on the generator shaft. This patented design has been well proven over several years in thousands of applications.
As well as shafts and couplings, Centa has enjoyed success with its gears in wind power applications. Special three-way spiral bevel gears are used for pitch actuation, which ensures that the turbines point into the wind at all times for maximum benefit. A similar gear combination is also used in wave power to ensure that the plant is maximising tidal direction, ebb and flow. Additionally, Centa's Sibre disc brakes are used extensively on wind turbine applications.
More and more design problems have been solved through the ingenious integration of innovative power transmission products. Centa's flexible couplings handle simultaneous combinations of angular and radial misalignment and axial 'end float', whilst absorbing high levels of torsional stress, resulting from driving unit vibration or momentary shock loads; to increase drive performance and reduce maintenance costs and plant downtime. Lightweight carbon fibre driveshafts are regularly specified in a variety of markets, allowing long span drive configurations to give up to 70% weight saving over conventional metal shafts and reducing the need for intermediate support bearings.
One further example where Centa has developed an environmentally-friendly 'green' solution is in public transport. Here, Centa has worked with various suppliers to devise independent hybrid drives that enable buses to switch from diesel engine to non polluting electric motors when moving within a city centre environment.
As testimony to Centa's success, several million Centa couplings are currently in use worldwide in industrial plant, generators, pumps, compressors, marine propulsion, rail traction, construction machinery and mechanical handling, all manufactured under ISO9001 and meeting the rigorous requirements of international classification societies. What this all means for the design engineer is that Centa, a market leader in mechanical power transmission innovation, can integrate a wide array of products to solve the most complex engineering problem.
Centa Transmissions Ltd
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