Technical Brief

Numerical Investigation of Mini Wind Turbines Near Highways

[+] Author and Article Information
Caelan Lapointe

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Union College,
218 Steinmetz Hall,
807 Union Street,
Schenectady, NY 12308

Harish Gopalan

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Union College,
218 Steinmetz Hall,
807 Union Street,
Schenectady, NY 12308
e-mail: gopalanh@ihpc.a-star.edu.sg

1Corresponding author.

2Present address: Fluid Dynamics Department, Institute of High Performance Computing, 1 Fusionopolis Way, #16-16 Connexis, Singapore 138632, Singapore.

Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF SOLAR ENERGY ENGINEERING: INCLUDING WIND ENERGY AND BUILDING ENERGY CONSERVATION. Manuscript received June 29, 2015; final manuscript received November 29, 2015; published online January 21, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Yves Gagnon.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 138(2), 024503 (Jan 21, 2016) (4 pages) Paper No: SOL-15-1203; doi: 10.1115/1.4032428 History: Received June 29, 2015; Revised November 29, 2015

High-speed vehicle motion on the highways produces localized winds whose energy can be harnessed. These local winds have less variability especially if the highway traffic is constant. The idea of extracting energy from highway winds has been conceptualized in many studies before. However, the feasibility of this idea has never been tested using analytical, computation, or experimental methods. In this study, we numerically compute the amount of power that can be extracted from local highway winds due to vehicular motion. A unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (URANS) method is used for modeling the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). Realistic computer-aided design (CAD) models of cars and trucks separated by spacing information obtained from the existing standards are used to model the vehicle motion. A vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) is used for extracting energy from the wind. The entire framework of ABL, vehicles, and turbine is simulated using overset grids and multiple translating and rotating frames of reference. Many vehicle motion scenarios were compared to the case of an isolated wind turbine. The initial results show a significant increase in the power that can be extracted by these turbines. The average extracted power increases about 317% when compared to the case without any vehicular motion. Field measurements or wind tunnel studies are required to provide validation for the computations and to determine if more advanced turbulence modeling methodologies have to be employed for these studies.

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Fig. 1

Boundary condition nomenclature

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Fig. 2

Grid setup used for the overset simulations

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Fig. 3

Grid around the car. Prismatic layers were used near the car and polyhedral cells away from it. Buffer mesh allows the smooth transition from the body-conforming mesh to background mesh with a maximum stretch ratio of 2.

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Fig. 4

Velocity contours for different scenarios: (a) car behind another car, (b) truck behind a car, (c) car behind a truck, and (d) truck behind a truck

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Fig. 5

Comparison of the vertical profile along the center of the gap region between the vehicles: (a) wind speed and (b) TKE



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