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Lift Augmentation for Vertical Axis Wind Turbines

Author(s): Gerald M Angle II | Mary Ann Clarke

Journal: International Journal of Engineering
ISSN 1985-2312

Volume: 4;
Issue: 5;
Start page: 430;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Circulation Control | Wind Energy | Vertical Axis Wind Turbine

The concept of harnessing wind power has been around for centuries, and is first recorded by the Persians in 900 AD. These early uses of wind power were for the processing of food, particularly grinding grains, and consisted of stationary blades around a horizontal axis, the precursor to today’s horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT). Technology for these wind mills was essentially the same until the 1930’s when advances in aircraft propeller theories were applied to the blades of the turbine. During this development period, which has since remained basically unchanged, the design push was for increasingly larger propellers requiring heavy and costly transmissions, generators, and support towers to be installed. An alternative concept to the HAWT was developed by Georges Darrieus [5], which utilized a vertical shaft and is known as a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT). The scientific development of the concept did not gain strong attention until the 1970’s due to the perceived low efficiency of this style. This perception was due in part to the portion of the blade’s rotary path that is adverse to the generation of power. This efficiency loss can be minimized by the mechanical movement of the blade, relative to the airflow during the upwind portion of the blades’ rotational path. Since, circulation control can alter the forces generated by an airfoil, it could be used to increase the efficiency of a VAWT by increasing the torque produced on the downwind portion of the path, while removing the need for a physical change in angle of attack. With the recent upturn in petroleum costs and global warming concerns, interest in renewable energy technologies have been reinvigorated, in particular the desire for advanced wind energy technologies, including the application of lift augmentation techniques. One of these techniques is to utilize circulation control to enhance the lifting capacity of the blades based on the location of the blade in the turbine’s rotation. Though this technology can be applied to any wind turbine, whether horizontal or vertical axis, this paper focuses on the application of circulation control for VAWT’s due primarily to reduced hardware complexities and to increase the performance of this design thus helping to level the playing field between the two styles. This performance enhancement coupled with the ability to locate the primary components near the ground allows for easier installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, and future improvement of the circulation control sub-system. By varying the circulation control performance with the blade position, the coefficient of performance, Cp, of the wind turbine can be altered. This variation in Cp resembles a change in the effective solidity factor, the non-dimensional characteristic that accounts for the number of turbine blades, chord length, and turbine radius. The solidity factor is typically used in the design of a wind turbine with its peak performance occurring at various tip speed ratios, at different solidity factors. Prior to the construction of physical models, analytical methods, namely a vortex model, was used to estimate the performance enhancement potential of the blade force augmentation via circulation control. These results were then used to construct and test a wind tunnel blade section model to obtain lift and drag values for a full range of rotational angles. These results were then supplied to the vortex model which indicated that through the addition of circulation control to the blades of a vertical axis wind turbine an approximately 20% improvement in the annual energy production, and consequently the capacity factor, could be achieved.
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