Design and Development of a Two-Megawatt, High Speed Permanent Magnet Alternator for Shipboard Application

Conventional gas turbine generator sets consist of a high speed turbine coupled to a low speed alternator through a speed reduction gearbox. This is required to maintain the alternator output frequency at 50 Hz or 60Hz, as output frequency is directly proportional to speed. Since power is also directly proportional to speed, the conventional system is bulky and possesses a very large footprint. The advent of solid-state inverters with their unique ability to efficiently and cost effectively change the alternator output frequency has made it possible to eliminate the need to link the alternator speed to the required 50/60 Hz output frequency. This output can be produced with a high-speed alternator, eliminating the need for a gearbox and greatly reducing the size, complexity, and weight of the machine by trading speed for torque. A direct drive system in which an alternator is coupled directly to a gas turbine is much more compact and highly efficient and requires much less maintenance. In this paper we will review the design and development of a high-speed permanent magnet alternator in an advanced cycle gas turbine system for shipboard applications. In addition to the alternator’s design features, we will discuss design considerations including electromagnetic design, thermal design and structural design of high speed electrical machines, and review the alternator development including risk mitigation.