Aerodynamic optimisation of a small-scale wind turbine blade for low windspeed conditions
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Wind conditions in South Africa determine the need for a small-scale wind turbine to produce useable power at windspeeds below 7m/s. In this project, a range of windspeeds, within which optimal performance o the wind turbine is expected, was selected. The optimal performance was assessed in terms of the Coefficient of Power(Cp), which rates the turbines blade's ability to extract energy form the avalible wind stream. The optimisation methods employed allowed a means of tackling the multi-variable problem such that the aerodynamic characteristics of the blade were ideal throughout the wind speed range. The design problem was broken down into a two-dimensional optimisaion of the airfoils used at the radial stations, and a three-dimensional optimisation of the geometric features of the wind rotor. by means of blending various standard airfoil profiles, a new profile was created at each radial station. XFOIL was used for the two-dimensional analysis of these airfoils. Three-dimensional optimisn involved representation of the rotor as a simplified model and use of the Blade Element Momentum(BEM) method for analysis. an existimg turbine blade, on which the design specifications were modelled, was further used for comparative purposes throughout the project. The resulting blade design offers substantial improvements on the reference design. The application of optimisation methods has successfully aided the creation of a wind turbine blade with consistent peak performance over a range of design prints.