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Enhancing the efficiency of wind turbines
Date:11/21/2010

r the same level of operational range. The team is also investigating a characteristic airfoil in a new anechoic wind tunnel facility at Syracuse University to determine the airfoil lift and drag characteristics with appropriate flow control while exposed to large-scale flow unsteadiness. In addition, the effects of flow control on the noise spectrum of the wind turbine will be also assessed and measured in the anechoic chamber.

Another problem with wind energy is drag, the resistance felt by the turbine blades as they beat the air. Scientists at the University of Minnesota have been looking at the drag-reduction effect of placing tiny grooves on turbine blades. The grooves are in the form of triangular riblets scored into a coating on the blade surface. They are so shallow (between 40 and 225 microns) that they can't be seen by the human eye -- leaving the blades looking perfectly smooth.

Using wind-tunnel tests of 2.5 megawatt turbine airfoil surfaces (becoming one of the popular industry standards) and computer simulations, they are looking at the efficacies of various groove geometries and angles of attack (how the blades are positioned relative to the air stream).

Riblets like these have been used before, in the sails on sailboats taking part in the last America's Cup regatta and on the Airbus airliner, where they produced a drag reduction of about 6 percent. The design of wind turbine blades was, at first, closely analogous to that of airplane wings. But owing to different engineering concerns, such as turbine blades having a much thicker cross section close to the hub and wind turbines having to cope with peculiar turbulence near the ground, drag reduction won't be quite the same for wind turbines.

University of Minnesota researchers Roger Arndt, Leonardo P. Chamorro and Fotis Sotiropoulos believe that riblets will increase wind turbine efficiency by about 3 percent.


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Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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