Aerodynamic and Aeroelastic Tool for Wind Turbine Applications

  • Received : 2012.08.23
  • Accepted : 2013.02.28
  • Published : 2013.03.30


The present work focuses on the unsteady aerodynamics and aeroelastic properties of a small-medium sized wind-turbine blade operating under ideal conditions. A tapered/twisted blade representative of commercial blades used in an experiment setup at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is considered. The aerodynamic loads are computed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques. For this purpose, FLUENT$^{(R)}$, a commercial finite-volume code that solves the Navier-Stokes and the Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) equations, is used. Turbulence effects in the 2D simulations are modeled using the Wilcox k-w model for validation of the CFD approach. For the 3D aerodynamic simulations, in a first approximation, and considering that the intent is to present a methodology and workflow philosophy more than highly accurate turbulent simulations, the unsteady laminar Navier-Stokes equations were used to determine the unsteady loads acting on the blades. Five different blade pitch angles were considered and their aerodynamic performance compared. The structural dynamics of the flexible wind-turbine blade undergoing significant elastic displacements has been described by a nonlinear flap-lag-torsion slender-beam differential model. The aerodynamic quasi-steady forcing terms needed for the aeroelastic governing equations have been predicted through a strip-theory based on a simple 2D model, and the pertinent aerodynamic coefficients and the distribution over the blade span of the induced velocity derived using CFD. The resulting unsteady hub loads are achieved by a first space integration of the aeroelastic equations by applying the Galerkin's approach and by a time integration using a harmonic balance scheme. Comparison among two- and three- dimensional computations for the unsteady aerodynamic load, the flap, lag and torsional deflections, forces and moments are presented in the paper. Results, discussions and pertinent conclusions are outlined.


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