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Wind Energy Science The interactive open-access journal of the European Academy of Wind Energy
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The airflow through a wind turbine must expand as it goes through the blades for them to extract energy from the wind. Expansion has not been properly incorporated in wind turbine aerodynamics. We show that the conventional equation for wind turbine thrust becomes inaccurate when the expansion is maximized to achieve maximum power, and expansion reduces power by around 6  %. We formulate equations for the disturbance of the external flow and show that this is maximized at the rotor plane.
Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/wes-2021-52
https://doi.org/10.5194/wes-2021-52

  07 Jun 2021

07 Jun 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal WES.

Some effects of flow expansion on the aerodynamics of horizontal-axis wind turbines

David Wood1 and Eric Limacher2 David Wood and Eric Limacher
  • 1Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary T2N 1N4, AB, Canada
  • 2Department of Mechanical Engineering, Federal University of Pará, Belém, Brazil

Abstract. Upwind of an energy-extracting horizontal-axis wind turbine, the flow expands as it approaches the rotor, and the expansion continues in the vorticity-bearing wake behind the rotor. The upwind expansion has long been known to influence the axial momentum equation through the axial component of the pressure, although the extent of the influence has not been quantified. Starting with the impulse analysis of Limacher & Wood (2020), but making no further use of impulse techniques, we demonstrate that the expansion redistributes momentum from the external flow to the wake and derive its exact expression when the rotor is circumferentially uniform. This expression, which depends on the radial velocity and the axial induction factor, is added to the thrust equation containing the pressure on the back of the disk. Removing the pressure to obtain a practically useful equation shows the axial induction in the far-wake is twice the value at the rotor only at high tip speed ratio and only if the relationship between vortex pitch and axial induction in non-expanding flow carries over to the expanding case. At high tip speed ratio, we assume that the expanding wake approaches the "Joukowsky'' model of a hub vortex on the axis of rotation and tip vortices originating from each blade. The additional assumption that the helical tip vortices have constant pitch, allows a semi-analytic treatment of their effect on the rotor flow. Expansion modifies the relation between the pitch and induced axial velocity so that the far-wake area and induction are significantly less than twice the values at the rotor. There is a moderate decrease – about 6 % – in the power production and a similar size error occurs in the familiar axial momentum equation involving the axial velocity.

David Wood and Eric Limacher

Status: open (until 19 Jul 2021)

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David Wood and Eric Limacher

David Wood and Eric Limacher

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Short summary
The airflow through a wind turbine must expand as it goes through the blades for them to extract energy from the wind. Expansion has not been properly incorporated in wind turbine aerodynamics. We show that the conventional equation for wind turbine thrust becomes inaccurate when the expansion is maximized to achieve maximum power, and expansion reduces power by around 6  %. We formulate equations for the disturbance of the external flow and show that this is maximized at the rotor plane.
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