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Effect of blade geometry on the aerodynamic loads produced by vertical-axis wind turbines

Scheurich, F. and Fletcher, Timothy M. and Brown, Richard (2011) Effect of blade geometry on the aerodynamic loads produced by vertical-axis wind turbines. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part A: Journal of Power and Energy, 225 (3). pp. 327-341. ISSN 0957-6509

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Abstract

Accurate aerodynamic modelling of vertical-axis wind turbines poses a significant challenge. The rotation of the turbine induces large variations in the angle of attack of its blades that can manifest as dynamic stall. In addition, interactions between the blades of the turbine and the wake that they produce can result in impulsive changes to the aerodynamic loading. The Vorticity Transport Model has been used to simulate the aerodynamic performance and wake dynamics of three different vertical-axis wind turbine configurations. It is known that vertical-axis turbines with either straight or curved blades deliver torque to their shaft that fluctuates at the blade passage frequency of the rotor. In contrast, a turbine with helically twisted blades delivers a relatively steady torque to the shaft. In this article, the interactions between helically twisted blades and the vortices within their wake are shown to result in localized perturbations to the aerodynamic loading on the rotor that can disrupt the otherwise relatively smooth power output that is predicted by simplistic aerodynamic tools that do not model the wake to sufficient fidelity. Furthermore, vertical-axis wind turbines with curved blades are shown to be somewhat more susceptible to local dynamic stall than turbines with straight blades.