Open Access
Nandi, Tarak Nath
Graduate Program:
Mechanical Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
November 28, 2016
Committee Members:
  • James Brasseur, Dissertation Advisor
  • James Brasseur, Committee Chair
  • Sven Schmitz, Committee Member
  • Daniel Connell Haworth, Committee Member
  • Eric G. Paterson, Outside Member
  • Mark David Maughmer, Committee Member
  • Eric G. Paterson, Special Member
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • CFD
  • turbulence
  • transition
  • atmospheric boundary layer
  • actuator line method
  • RANS
  • LES
  • Wind Energy
Relevant to utility scale wind turbine functioning and reliability, the present work focuses on enhancing our understanding of wind turbine responses from interactions between energy-dominant daytime atmospheric turbulence eddies and rotating blades of a GE 1.5 MW wind turbine using a unique data set from a GE field experiment and computer simulations at two levels of fidelity. Previous studies have shown that the stability state of the lower troposphere has a major impact on the coherent structure of the turbulence eddies, with corresponding differences in wind turbine loading response. In this study, time-resolved aerodynamic data measured locally at the leading edge and trailing edge of three outer blade sections on a GE 1.5 MW wind turbine blade and high-frequency SCADA generator power data from a daytime field campaign are combined with computer simulations that mimic the GE wind turbine within a numerically generated atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) flow field which is a close approximation of the atmospheric turbulence experienced by the wind turbine in the field campaign. By combining the experimental and numerical data sets, this study describes the time-response characteristics of the local loadings on the blade sections in response to nonsteady nonuniform energetic atmospheric turbulence eddies within a daytime ABL which have spatial scale commensurate with that of the turbine blade length. This study is the first of its kind where actuator line and blade boundary layer resolved CFD studies of a wind turbine field campaign are performed with the motivation to validate the numerical predictions with the experimental data set, and emphasis is given on understanding the influence of the laminar to turbulent transition process on the blade loadings. The experimental and actuator line method data sets identify three important response time scales quantified at the blade location: advective passage of energy dominant eddies (~ 25 - 50 s), blade rotation (1P, ~3 s) and sub-1P scale (< 1 s) response to internal eddy structure. Large amplitude short-time ramp-like and oscillatory load fluctuations result in response to temporal changes in velocity vector inclination in the airfoil plane, modulated by eddy passage at longer time scales. Generator power is found to respond strongly to large-eddy wind modulations. The experimental data show that internal dynamics of blade boundary layer near the trailing edge is temporally modulated by the nonsteady external ABL flow that was measured at the leading edge, as well as blade generated turbulence motions. A blade boundary layer resolved CFD study of a GE 1.5MWwind turbine blade is carried out using a hybrid URANS/LES framework to quantify the influence of transition on the blade boundary layer dynamics and subsequent loadings, and also to predict the velocity magnitude data set measured by the trailing edge rakes in the experiment. A URANS based transition model is used as the near-wall model, and its ability to predict nonsteady boundary layer dynamics is assessed for flow over an oscillating airfoil exhibiting varying extents of nonsteady behavior. The CFD study shows that, at rated conditions, the transition and separation locations on the blade surface can be quite dynamic, but the transitional flow has negligible influence on the determination of the separation location and the overall pressure distribution at various blade sections, and subsequently the power output. But this conclusion should be accepted with caution for wind turbines running in off-design conditions (e.g. with significant yaw error, off-design pitch or rapid changes in pitch), where massive separation and dynamic stall may occur. Analysis of the near-blade flow field shows strong three dimensional flow in the inboard regions, which can possibly weaken the chordwise flow in the relatively outboard regions and make them more prone to separation. The trailing edge velocity profiles show qualitative resemblance with some specific cycles observed in the field experiment. The factors leading to the observed differences from the experimental data are also mentioned