New Tech May Optimize Wind Turbines

Wind gusts, turbulent flow, upstream turbine wakes and wind shear–all are issues affecting the health and longevity of wind turbines, along with their output capacities, and all are issues addressed by a new type of air-flow technology that may soon increase the efficiency of large wind turbines under various wind conditions.

This new research from Syracuse University’s L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS)–with support from the U.S. Department of Energy through the University of Minnesota Wind Energy Consortium–involves new, “intelligent-systems-based active flow control methods” that estimate the flow conditions over the blade surfaces from surface measurements. This information is then crunched by an intelligent controller to implement real-time actuation on the blades to control the airflow and increase the overall efficiency of the system. This approach also has the potential to reduce excessive noise and vibration stemming from flow separation.

Wind Turbines

image via Wikipedia Commons

The initial simulation results reported by LCS researchers Guannan Wang, Basman El Hadidi, Jakub Walczak, Mark Glauser and Hiroshi Higuchi show that flow control applied on the outboard side of the blade beyond the half radius could either enlarge the overall operational range of the wind turbine with the same rated power output by 80 percent, or increase the rated output power for the same level of operational range by 20 percent.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.