An Improved Model for Simulating Wind Farms

photo of wind turbines; computer graphics of air flow over turbine nacelle

As the use of wind energy increases, engineers are using computer modeling to optimize the design of wind farms. The rotation of the turbines as the wind flows over and through them creates vortices that can interfere with other turbines. Being able to model air flow over the turbine blades and other features allows engineers to place the turbines in a way that will generate the most energy with the least interference.

MSI PI Fotis Sotiropoulos (adjunct professor, Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering and St. Anthony Falls Laboratory) has developed a new model that more accurately simulates wind turbines by taking into account not only the blades, but the turbine nacelle. The model is also capable of incorporating more geometrical details of the turbine blades than earlier models. Professor Sotiropoulos and his MSI group member Dr. Xiaolei Yang published this new model recently in the journal Wind Energy. Their results showed good accuracy compared with measurement data for tip vortices, turbulence statistics, and meandering of the turbine wake. The paper can be found on the journal website: X. Yang, F. Sotiropoulos. 2018. A new class of actuator surface models for wind turbines. Wind Energy 21:285-302. doi: 10.1002/we.2162.

Professor Sotiropoulos and Dr. Yang are currently located at the Department of Civil Engineering at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. While located at the University of Minnesota, Professor Sotiropoulos was the Director of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory during 2006 - 2015. Dr. Yang worked at SAFL as a post-doc and research associate. Several MSI PIs are members of SAFL, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary in November 2018.

Image description: Top right: Schematic of the nacelle geometry with the triangular surface mesh. The flow is from left to right. Bottom right: Contours of instantaneous streamwise velocity of the nacelle case. A, wall‐resolved LES; B, actuator surface simulation (coarse grid). Images at right and descriptions, X Yang and F Sotiropoulos, Wind Energy 21(5):285-302, 2018. doi: 10.1002/we.2162.

posted on October 23, 2018

See all Research Spotlights.