Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Investigation into the Aerodynamics Surrounding Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines
by Parker, Colin M., Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2018, 138; 10687173
Abstract (Summary)

The flow surrounding a scaled model vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) at realistic operating conditions was studied. The model closely matches geometric and dynamic properties—tip-speed ratio and Reynolds number—of a full-size turbine. The flowfield is measured using particle imaging velocimetry (PIV) in the mid-plane upstream, around, and after (up to 4 turbine diameters downstream) the turbine, as well as a vertical plane behind the turbine. Ensemble-averaged results revealed an asymmetric wake behind the turbine, regardless of tip-speed ratio, with a larger velocity deficit for a higher tip-speed ratio. For the higher tip-speed ratio, an area of averaged flow reversal is present with a maximum reverse flow of –0.04U. Phase-averaged vorticity fields—achieved by syncing the PIV system with the rotation of the turbine—show distinct structures form from each turbine blade. There are distinct differences in the structures that are shed into the wake for tip-speed ratios of 0.9, 1.3 and 2.2—switching from two pairs to a single pair of shed vortices—and how they convect into the wake—the middle tip-speed ratio vortices convect downstream inside the wake, while the high tip-speed ratio pair is shed into the shear layer of the wake. The wake structure is found to be much more sensitive to changes in tip-speed ratio than to changes in Reynolds number. The geometry of a turbine can influence tip-speed ratio, but the precise relationship among VAWT geometric parameters and VAWT wake characteristics remains unknown. Next, we characterize the wakes of three VAWTs that are geometrically similar except for the ratio of the turbine diameter (D), to blade chord (c), which was chosen to be D/c = 3, 6, and 9, for a fixed freestream Reynolds number based on the blade chord of Rec =16,000. In addition to two-component PIV and single-component constant temperature anemometer measurements are made at the horizontal mid-plane in the wake of each turbine. Hot-wire measurement locations are selected to coincide with the edge of the shear layer of each turbine wake, as deduced from the PIV data, which allows for an analysis of the frequency content of the wake due to vortex shedding by the turbine. Changing the tip-speed ratio leads to substantial wake variation possibly because changing the tip-speed ratio changes the dynamic solidity. In this work, we achieve a similar change in dynamic solidity by varying the D/c ratio and holding the tip-speed ratio constant. This change leads to very similar characteristic shifts in the wake, such as a greater blockage effect, including averaged flow reversal in the case of high dynamic solidity (D/c = 3). The phase-averaged vortex identification shows that both the blockage effect and the wake structures are similarly affected by a change in dynamic solidity. At lower dynamic solidity, pairs of vortices are shed into the wake directly downstream of the turbine. For all three models, a vortex chain is shed into the shear layer at the edge of the wake where the blade is processing into the freestream.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Leftwich, Megan C.
Commitee: Araya, Daniel B., Balaras, Elias, Miller, J. Houston, Plesniak, Michael W.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 79/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Fluid mechanics, Thermodynamics, Aerospace engineering, Energy
Keywords: Aerodynamics, Vertical-axis wind turbines
Publication Number: 10687173
ISBN: 9780355615951