Wind and water turbines: Simulation of unsteady aerodynamic forces and theoretical modelling

Principal investigator: Eldad AVITAL
Co-investigator(s): Fariborz MOTALLEBI, Huasheng WANG and Ranjan VEPA
Funding source(s): Royal Society
 Start: 20-03-2019  /  End: 19-03-2022
 Amount: £12,000
Iso-surface of velocity magnitude for the case of H-type Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT), LES, produced by Miss Yan, PhD student

Rotor based devices have been fundamental in technological development from propulsion of aero and nautical transport to renewable energy production such as wind and water turbines. It has proven to be a robust design that has revolutionised our world. However, it has limitations in terms of efficiency whether for propulsion or energy production, showing sensitivity to the fluid flow speed, making for example wind turbines highly inefficient when the air speed is out of design range.

Conventional design approach regards blade deflection as something inappropriate that takes the blade shape out of the design specification, risking structural failure and thus should suppressed as much as possible, without having much weight penalty. However, recent structural development in composite structure have shown how wind turbine blades can much deflect as do the wings of the B787 aircraft.

This opens new exciting avenues of design where blades made of smart structures can morph themselves according to the flow conditions and achieve high efficiency for new renewable energy devices. However, such design requires better understanding of the physics of the flow-structure-interaction and the development of new robust and fast modelling of that interaction. These are the aims of this project to be run jointly with University of Jinan China.

High fidelity flow-structural dynamics simulations of wind and water turbines will be pursued using advanced computing clusters and complemented by wind tunnel tests. The results will be analysed and used to derive new fast models that will support future development of new renewable energy devices extracting kinetic energy from the wind and water flows.