The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has signed a contract with Romax Technology, Inc., as part a $10 million dynamometer construction project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Romax will assess the design, fabrication and testing of a 5 MW gearbox and the driveline equipment for a dynamometer test facility at NREL's National Wind Technology Center. The new gearbox will upgrade the NWTC's dynamometer test capabilities from a current capacity rating of 2.5 MW to 5 MW. As the primary U.S. wind energy research and development facility, the NWTC provides the wind industry with customized turbine and component testing. The planned 5MW dynamometer upgrade will enhance the research and operational capabilities of the U.S. wind industry. Dynamometers enable industry and testing agencies to verify the performance and reliability of wind turbine drivetrain prototypes and commercial machines. "We are very pleased to have the expertise of Romax on our team as we move through the design, fabrication and testing of the gearbox for our dynamometer upgrade," said Jim Green, senior project leader, NREL.
With 20 years experience in gearbox, bearing and drivetrain design, Romax Technology is a leading independent drivetrain consultancy firm. Romax will conduct a due diligence assessment of a gearbox to be constructed by Brad Foote Gearworks Inc. The assessment will include elements likely to affect reliability and performance such as the gears, bearings, lubrication system, assembly and manufacturing methods. "It's a pleasure to be aiding NREL in ensuring the quality of design, build and assembly for what will be an important piece of national infrastructure for the wind industry," said Dr. Ashley Crowther, VP Engineering (Wind), Romax. One of the goals of the Recovery Act, signed by Congress in 2009, is to create new jobs and save existing ones. The Romax effort on the DOE/NREL dynamometer construction project will be based at the Romax office in Boulder, Colorado.