Aerodynamic design and analysis of small horizontal axis wind turbine blades

Tang, Xinzi (2012) Aerodynamic design and analysis of small horizontal axis wind turbine blades. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The exploitation of small horizontal axis wind turbines provides a clean, prospective and viable option for energy supply. Although great progress has been achieved in the wind energy sector, there is still potential space to reduce the cost and improve the performance of small wind turbines. An enhanced understanding of how small wind turbines interact with the wind turns out to be essential. This work investigates the aerodynamic design and analysis of small horizontal axis wind turbine blades via the blade element momentum (BEM) based approach and the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) based approach. From this research, it is possible to draw a series of detailed guidelines on small wind turbine blade design and analysis. The research also provides a platform for further comprehensive study using these two approaches.

The wake induction corrections and stall corrections of the BEM method were examined through a case study of the NREL/NASA Phase VI wind turbine. A hybrid stall correction model was proposed to analyse wind turbine power performance. The proposed model shows improvement in power prediction for the validation case, compared with the existing stall correction models. The effects of the key rotor parameters of a small wind turbine as well as the blade chord and twist angle distributions on power performance were investigated through two typical wind turbines, i.e. a fixed-pitch variable-speed (FPVS) wind turbine and a fixed-pitch fixed-speed (FPFS) wind turbine. An engineering blade design and analysis code was developed in MATLAB to accommodate aerodynamic design and analysis of the blades. The linearisation for radial profiles of blade chord and twist angle for the FPFS wind turbine blade design was discussed. Results show that, the proposed linearisation approach leads to reduced manufacturing cost and higher annual energy production (AEP), with minimal effects on the low wind speed performance.

Comparative studies of mesh and turbulence models in 2D and 3D CFD modelling were conducted. The CFD predicted lift and drag coefficients of the airfoil S809 were compared with wind tunnel test data and the 3D CFD modelling method of the NREL/NASA Phase VI wind turbine were validated against measurements. Airfoil aerodynamic characterisation and wind turbine power performance as well as 3D flow details were studied. The detailed flow characteristics from the CFD modelling are quantitatively comparable to the measurements, such as blade surface pressure distribution and integrated forces and moments. It is confirmed that the CFD approach is able to provide a more detailed qualitative and quantitative analysis for wind turbine airfoils and rotors. With more advanced turbulence model and more powerful computing capability, it is prospective to improve the BEM method considering 3D flow effects.

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