The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected Romax Technology as the lead mechanical engineer in a consortium that will develop an innovative wind turbine drivetrain design.

The company has been selected as part of a $3m project run by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado.

The consortium includes the NREL, CREE, DNV, DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, GE Wind and Vattenfall Windpower.

The project was developed with the brief of studying advanced drivetrain technology that can be scaled for large turbines and ultimately reduce the cost of wind energy.

Romax is contributing its mechanical engineering and wind turbine expertise.

The team’s concept will scale to ratings as high as 10MW whilst maintaining the lowest possible costs.

The Romax gearbox design will consist of a single, planetary stage that reduces part numbers by eliminating higher speed gear stages, and investigates the use of planet journal bearings for minimising planet stage size.

In 2011, Romax was selected to be to be part of an NREL team that competed against six other groups to conduct a study of advanced drivetrain technologies.

"The project was developed with the brief of studying advanced drivetrain technology that can be scaled for large turbines."

The team was one of only two awarded funding for a follow-on phase to build a prototype and demonstrate the commercialisation of the technology.

Romax US engineering manager Christopher Halse said after successfully completing phase one, phase two will give us the opportunity to fabricate and test a megawatt-scale prototype drivetrain to prove our design innovations.

"The drivetrain will be tested in the NREL’s 2.5MW dynamometer and will utilise the NREL’s newly commissioned Controllable Grid Interface (CGI) to replicate the loads wind turbines undergo in the field," Halse said.

"Upon successful completion of testing, technology readiness levels will be determined and combined with a commercialisation plan that will ultimately lead to global deployment of the drivetrain technologies. Our six years of close collaboration with the NREL is a clear indication of Romax’s commitment to driving innovation in the wind energy industry."