Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Vincent Blouin

Committee Member

Konstantin Bulgakov

Committee Member

Dr. Lonny Thompson

Committee Member

Dr. John Wagner


The SCE&G Energy Innovation Center is a state-of-the-art wind turbine testing facility that contains two test benches: one capable of supporting 7.5 MW wind turbine nacelles and another capable of supporting 15 MW nacelles. These test benches give engineers the ability to apply simulated wind conditions to a nacelle while simultaneously monitoring the performance of its inner components. This is achieved using a load applicator unit (LAU), which can apply forces and moments to the nacelle’s main shaft in all three coordinate directions. However, before this could be performed, test engineers have to calibrate the LAU; therefore, the rigid commissioning stand (RCS) was created to aid in this process. The purpose of this thesis is to enable the calibration process by creating a finite element model of the RCS and comparing the numerical results to a set of experimental measurements. In this thesis, the development of the finite element model is discussed in terms of assumptions and limitations. The interactions among the components of the RCS are thoroughly investigated as they are the main reasons for the discrepancies between numerical and experimental results. A numerical sensitivity analysis is performed on three unknown parameters to determine their influence on the finite element model and its numerical results. The thesis concludes by calibrating and validating the numerical model to match the experimental results produced by load cells and strain gauges. Using this accurate numerical model, it is shown that the finite element method can be used to predict the behavior of large-scale, multi-body assemblies used for calibration purposes.



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