Physical and Numerical Model Studies of Cross-flow Turbines Towards Accurate Parameterization in Array Simulations

Monday, 15 December 2014
Martin Wosnik and Peter Bachant, University of New Hampshire Main Campus, Durham, NH, United States
Cross-flow turbines, often referred to as vertical-axis turbines, show potential for success in marine hydrokinetic (MHK) and wind energy applications, ranging from small- to utility-scale installations in tidal/ocean currents and offshore wind. As turbine designs mature, the research focus is shifting from individual devices to the optimization of turbine arrays.

It would be expensive and time-consuming to conduct physical model studies of large arrays at large model scales (to achieve sufficiently high Reynolds numbers), and hence numerical techniques are generally better suited to explore the array design parameter space. However, since the computing power available today is not sufficient to conduct simulations of the flow in and around large arrays of turbines with fully resolved turbine geometries (e.g., grid resolution into the viscous sublayer on turbine blades), the turbines’ interaction with the energy resource (water current or wind) needs to be parameterized, or modeled. Models used today--a common model is the actuator disk concept--are not able to predict the unique wake structure generated by cross-flow turbines. This wake structure has been shown to create "constructive" interference in some cases, improving turbine performance in array configurations, in contrast with axial-flow, or horizontal axis devices.

Towards a more accurate parameterization of cross-flow turbines, an extensive experimental study was carried out using a high-resolution turbine test bed with wake measurement capability in a large cross-section tow tank. The experimental results were then "interpolated" using high-fidelity Navier--Stokes simulations, to gain insight into the turbine's near-wake. The study was designed to achieve sufficiently high Reynolds numbers for the results to be Reynolds number independent with respect to turbine performance and wake statistics, such that they can be reliably extrapolated to full scale and used for model validation. The end product of this work will be a cross-flow turbine actuator line model to be used as an extension to the OpenFOAM computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software framework, which will likely require modifications to commonly-used dynamic stall models, in consideration of the turbines' high angle of attack excursions during normal operation.