Evaluation and performance prediction of a wind turbine blade

Pierce, Warrick Tait
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Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch
The aerodynamic performance of an existing wind turbine blade optimised for low wind speed conditions is investigated. The aerodynamic characteristics of four span locations are determined from surface pressure measurements and wake surveys with a traversed five-hole probe performed in a low speed wind tunnel for chord Reynolds numbers ranging from 360,000 - 640,000. Two-dimensional modelling of the wind tunnel tests is performed with the commercial computational fluid dynamics code FLUENT. The predictive accuracies of five eddy-viscosity turbulence models are compared. The computational results are compared to each other and experimental data. It is found that agreement between computational and experimental results varies with turbulence model. For lower Reynolds numbers, the Transitional-SST turbulence model accurately predicted the presence of laminar separation bubbles and was found to be superior to the fully turbulent models considered. This highlighted the importance of transitional modelling at lower Reynolds numbers. With increasing angles of attack the bubbles were found to move towards the leading edge and decrease in length. This was validated with experimental data. For the tip blade section, computations implementing the k-ε realizable turbulence model best predicted experimental data. The two-dimensional panel method code, XFOIL, was found to be optimistic with significantly higher lift-to-drag ratios than measured. Three-dimensional modelling of the rotating wind turbine rotor is performed with the commercial computational fluid dynamics code NUMECA. The Coefficient of Power (Cp) predicted varies from 0.440 to 0.565 depending on the turbulence model. Sectional airfoil characteristics are extracted from these computations and compared to two-dimensional airfoil characteristics. Separation was found to be suppressed for the rotating case. A lower limit of 0.481 for Cp is proposed based on the experimental data.
Thesis (MScEng (Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.
Wind turbines -- Aerodynamics, Dissertations -- Mechanical engineering, Theses -- Mechanical engineering