11 Dec 2023
 | 11 Dec 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal WES.

Modeling unsteady loads on wind-turbine blade sections from periodic structural oscillations and impinging gusts

Nathaniel James Wei and Omkar Bhalchandra Shende

Abstract. Many traditional methods for wind turbine design and analysis assume quasi-steady aerodynamics, but atmospheric flows are inherently unsteady and modern turbine blades are susceptible to aeroelastic deformations. This study therefore evaluates the effectiveness of simple analytical models for capturing the effects of such unsteady conditions on wind-turbine blades. We consider a pitching and plunging airfoil in a periodic transverse gust as an idealization of unsteady loading scenarios on a blade section. A potential-flow model derived from a linear combination of canonical problems is proposed to predict the unsteady lift on a two-dimensional airfoil in the small-perturbation limit. We then perform high-fidelity two-dimensional numerical simulations of a NACA-0012 airfoil over a range of periodic pitch, plunge, and gust disturbances, and quantify the amplitude and phase of the unsteady lift response. Good agreement with the model predictions is found for low to moderate forcing amplitudes and frequencies, while deviations are observed when the angle-of-attack amplitudes approach the static flow-separation limit of the airfoil. Potential explanations are given for the cases in which the ideal-flow theory proves insufficient. This theoretical framework and numerical evaluation motivate the inclusion of unsteady flow models in design and simulation tools in order to increase the robustness and operational lifespans of wind turbine blades in real flow conditions.

Nathaniel James Wei and Omkar Bhalchandra Shende

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on wes-2023-164', David Wood, 07 Feb 2024 reply
Nathaniel James Wei and Omkar Bhalchandra Shende
Nathaniel James Wei and Omkar Bhalchandra Shende


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Short summary
Many methods for wind turbine design treat incoming gusts and blade deflections as changing slowly enough to be approximated as constant. This is not true in reality, but we can build a model for these effects from functions that can solve similar problems for aircraft wings. We run numerical simulations to validate this model using sections of a blade and find it predicts lift forces well. This method can help turbine analysis tools increase the robustness and performance of turbine blades.