Research Papers: Alternative Energy Sources

J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2019;141(5):051201-051201-12. doi:10.1115/1.4041735.

The elliptical-bladed Savonius wind turbine rotor has become a subject of interest because of its better energy capturing capability. Hitherto, the basic parameters of this rotor such as overlap ratio, aspect ratio, and number of blades have been studied and optimized numerically. Most of these studies estimated the torque and power coefficients (CT and CP) at given flow conditions. However, the two important aerodynamic forces, viz., the lift and the drag, acting on the elliptical-bladed rotor have not been studied. This calls for a deeper investigation into the effect of these forces on the rotor performance to arrive at a suitable design configuration. In view of this, at the outset, two-dimensional (2D) unsteady simulations are conducted to find the instantaneous lift and drag forces acting on an elliptical-bladed rotor at a Reynolds number (Re) = 0.892 × 105. The shear stress transport (SST) k–ω turbulence model is used for solving the unsteady Reynolds averaged Navier–Stokes equations. The three-dimensional (3D) unsteady simulations are then performed which are then followed by the wind tunnel experiments. The drag and lift coefficients (CD and CL) are analyzed for 0–360 deg rotation of rotor with an increment of 1 deg. The total pressure, velocity magnitude, and turbulence intensity contours are obtained at various angles of rotor rotation. For the elliptical-bladed rotor, the average CD, CL, and CP, from 3D simulation, are found to be 1.31, 0.48, and 0.26, respectively. The average CP for the 2D elliptical profile is found to be 0.34, whereas the wind tunnel experiments demonstrate CP to be 0.19.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2019;141(5):051202-051202-10. doi:10.1115/1.4041544.

Wind energy has had a major impact on the generation of renewable energy. While most research and development focuses on large, utility-scale wind turbines, a new application is in the field of small wind turbines for the urban environment. A major design challenge for urban wind turbines is the noise generated during operation. This study examines the power production and the noise generated by two small-scale wind turbines tested in a small wind tunnel. Both rotors were designed using the blade-element momentum theory using either the NREL S823 or the Eppler 216 airfoils. Point noise measurements were taken using a microphone at three locations downstream of the turbine: 16% of the diameter (two chord lengths), 50% of the diameter, and 75% of the diameter. At each location downstream of the turbine, a vertical traverse was performed to analyze the sound pressure level (SPL) from the tip of the turbine blades down to the hub. The rotor designed with the Eppler 216 airfoil showed a 9% increase in power production and decrease of up to 7 dB(A).

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2019;141(5):051203-051203-10. doi:10.1115/1.4042235.

A multirotor system (MRS) is defined as containing more than one rotor in a single structure. MRSs have a great potential as a wind turbine system, saving mass and cost, and showing scale ability. The shrouded wind turbine with brimmed diffuser-augmented wind turbines (B-DAWT) has demonstrated power augmentation for a given turbine diameter and wind speed by a factor of about 2–5 compared with a bare wind turbine. In the present research, B-DAWTs are used in a multirotor system. The power output performance of MRSs using two and three B-DAWTs in a variety of configurations has been investigated in the previous works. In the present study, the aerodynamics of an MRS with five B-DAWTs, spaced in close vicinity in the same vertical plane normal to a uniform flow, has been analyzed. Power output increases of up to 21% in average for a five-rotor MRS configuration are achieved in comparison to that for the stand-alone configuration. Thus, when B-DAWTs are employed as the unit of a MRS, the total power output is remarkably increased. As the number of units for an MRS is increased from two to five, the increase in power output becomes larger and larger. This is because that the gap flows between B-DAWTs in a MRS are accelerated and cause lowered pressure regions due to vortex interaction behind the brimmed diffusers. Thus, a MRS with more B-DAWTs can draw more wind into turbines showing higher power output.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2019;141(5):051204-051204-8. doi:10.1115/1.4042414.

In order to obtain an optimal design of composite offshore wind turbine blade, take into account all the structural properties and the limiting conditions applied as close as possible to real cases. This work is divided into two stages: the aerodynamic design and the structural design. The optimal blade structural configuration was determined through a parametric study by using a finite element method. The skin thickness, thickness and width of the spar flange, and thickness, location, and length of the front and rear spar web were varied until design criteria were satisfied. The purpose of this article is to provide the designer with all the tools required to model and optimize the blades. The aerodynamic performance has been covered in this study using blade element momentum (BEM) method to calculate the loads applied to the turbine blade during service and extreme stormy conditions, and the finite element analysis was performed by using abaqus code to predict the most critical damage behavior and to apprehend and obtain knowledge of the complex structural behavior of wind turbine blades. The approach developed based on the nonlinear finite element analysis using mean values for the material properties and the failure criteria of Hashin to predict failure modes in large structures and to identify the sensitive zones.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2019;141(5):051205-051205-9. doi:10.1115/1.4042450.

Wind turbine upgrades have recently been spreading in the wind energy industry for optimizing the efficiency of the wind kinetic energy conversion. These interventions have material and labor costs; therefore, it is fundamental to estimate the production improvement realistically. Furthermore, the retrofitting of the wind turbines sited in complex environments might exacerbate the stress conditions to which those are subjected and consequently might affect the residual life. In this work, a two-step upgrade on a multimegawatt wind turbine is considered from a wind farm sited in complex terrain. First, vortex generators and passive flow control devices have been installed. Second, the management of the revolutions per minute has been optimized. In this work, a general method is formulated for assessing the wind turbine power upgrades using operational data. The method is based on the study of the residuals between the measured power output and a judicious model of the power output itself, before and after the upgrade. Therefore, properly selecting the model is fundamental. For this reason, an automatic feature selection algorithm is adopted, based on the stepwise multivariate regression. This allows identifying the most meaningful input variables for a multivariate linear model whose target is the power of the upgraded wind turbine. For the test case of interest, the adopted upgrade is estimated to increase the annual energy production to 2.6 ± 0.1%. The aerodynamic and control upgrades are estimated to be 1.8% and 0.8%, respectively, of the production improvement.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster


J. Energy Resour. Technol. 2019;141(5):055501-055501-7. doi:10.1115/1.4042447.

The exploitation of wind turbines in complex terrain has recently been growing. The comprehension of wind flow, especially in the downstream area, is by itself a challenging task in complex terrain: even more so, it is difficult to account for the mixing between terrain effects and the wake interactions between nearby turbines. Efficiency is one of the simplest and meaningful metrics for quantifying the impact of wakes on wind farm production, but its definition is well established basically only for offshore wind farms. In this work, the definition of wind farm efficiency is, therefore, discussed, based on the critical points arising in complex terrain, where there can be at the same time a considerable variation of free wind flow along the layout and a directional distortion of the wakes, induced by the terrain. In this work, operational data of a test case wind farm sited in a very complex terrain, featuring 17 multimegawatt wind turbines, are elaborated and inspire a discussion and a novel definition of efficiency, that restores in the complex terrain case the meaning of the efficiency.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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