Numerical simulation of a tidal turbine based hydrofoil with leading-edge tubercles

Shi, Weichao and Atlar, Mehmet and Seo, Kwangcheol and Norman, Rosemary and Rosli, Roslynna; (2016) Numerical simulation of a tidal turbine based hydrofoil with leading-edge tubercles. In: Proceedings of the ASME 35th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, 2016. American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), KOR. ISBN 978-0-7918-4997-2 (

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The tubercles along the leading edges of the humpback whale flippers can provide these large mammals with an exceptional maneuverability. This is due to the fact that the leading-edge tubercles have largely a 3D benefit for the finite hydrofoils, which can maintain the lift, reduce the drag and delay the stall angle. Newcastle University launched a series study to improve a tidal turbine’s performance with the aid of this concept. This paper presents a numerical simulation of the tested hydrofoil, which is representative of a tidal turbine blade, to investigate the flow around the foil and also to numerically model the experiment. This hydrofoil was designed based on an existing tidal turbine blade with the same chord length distribution but a constant pitch angle. The model tests have been conducted in the Emerson Cavitation Tunnel measuring the lift and drag. The results showed that the leading-edge tubercles can significantly improve the performance of the hydrofoil by improving the lift-to-drag ratio and delaying the stall. By applying Shear Stress Transport (SST), Detached Eddy Simulation (DES) and Large Eddy Simulation (LES) via using the commercial CFD solver, Star-CCM+, the tested hydrofoil models were simulated and more detailed flow information has been achieved to complement the experiment. The numerical results show that the DES model is in close agreement with the experimental results. The flow separation pattern indicates the leading-edge tubercles can energize the flow around the hydrofoil to keep the flow more attached and also separate the flow into different channels through the tubercles.