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Research Papers

Investigation of Self-Starting Capability of Vertical Axis Wind Turbines Using a Computational Fluid Dynamics Approach

[+] Author and Article Information
Alexandrina Untaroiu1

Rotating Machinery and Controls (ROMAC) Laboratory,  University of Virginia, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, 122 Engineer’s Way, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4746au6d@virginia.edu

Houston G. Wood, Paul E. Allaire, Robert J. Ribando

Rotating Machinery and Controls (ROMAC) Laboratory,  University of Virginia, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, 122 Engineer’s Way, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4746au6d@virginia.edu

1

Corresponding author.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 133(4), 041010 (Oct 13, 2011) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004705 History: Received October 15, 2010; Revised July 20, 2011; Published October 13, 2011; Online October 13, 2011

Vertical axis wind turbines have always been a controversial technology; claims regarding their benefits and drawbacks have been debated since the initial patent in 1931. Despite this contention, very little systematic vertical axis wind turbine research has been accomplished. Experimental assessments remain prohibitively expensive, while analytical analyses are limited by the complexity of the system. Numerical methods can address both concerns, but inadequate computing power hampered this field. Instead, approximating models were developed which provided some basis for study; but all these exhibited high error margins when compared with actual turbine performance data and were only useful in some operating regimes. Modern computers are capable of more accurate computational fluid dynamics analysis, but most research has focused on horizontal axis configurations or modeling of single blades rather than full geometries. In order to address this research gap, a systematic review of vertical axis wind-power turbine (VAWT) was undertaken, starting with establishment of a methodology for vertical axis wind turbine simulation that is presented in this paper. Replicating the experimental prototype, both 2D and 3D models of a three-bladed vertical axis wind turbine were generated. Full transient computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations using mesh deformation capability available in ansys-CFX were run from turbine start-up to operating speed and compared with the experimental data in order to validate the technique. A circular inner domain, containing the blades and the rotor, was allowed to undergo mesh deformation with a rotational velocity that varied with torque generated by the incoming wind. Results have demonstrated that a transient CFD simulation using a two-dimensional computational model can accurately predict vertical axis wind turbine operating speed within 12% error, with the caveat that intermediate turbine performance is not accurately captured.

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Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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References

Figures

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Figure 1

Durham wind tunnel setup and test prototype

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Figure 2

2D Boundary conditions setup illustrating the inner and outer domain, both set as stationary; (1) inlet, (2) outlet, (3) no-slip adiabatic wall, and (4) transient rotor-stator interface

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Figure 3

Structured two dimensional mesh for the Durham wind tunnel; inner domain and detail view of mesh clustered on the blade surface

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Figure 4

3D CFD simulation setup illustrating (a) the inner domain undergoing mesh deformation and (b) outer domain

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Figure 5

Unstructured hybrid mesh replicating Durham wind tunnel and VAWT prototype; (a) inner domain and (b) outer domain

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Figure 6

2D Simulation, angular velocity versus time comparison for two timesteps

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Figure 7

2D Simulation, angular velocity versus time comparison for two inlet k-ɛ turbulence levels

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Figure 8

2D Simulation, percent difference between 1% and 5% level k-ɛ turbulence models

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Figure 9

Comparison of raw 2D k-ɛ simulations with experimental data

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Figure 10

Comparison of scaled 2D k-ɛ simulations with experimental data

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Figure 11

Comparison of scaled 2D and 3D k-ɛ simulations with experimental data

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Figure 12

Velocity vectors on a VAWT Blade for various azimuthal positions

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Figure 13

Medium k-ɛ turbulence model, velocity contours (m/s) at various times

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Figure 14

Medium k-ɛ Turbulence model, eddy viscosity contours at various times

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