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CFD Simulation of Savonius turbine using ANSYS Fluent and optimization via EA algorithm.

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GT2010

June 14-18, 2010, Glasgow, UK

GT2010-

USING FRONTAL GUIDING PLATES

Mohamed H. Mohamed

mohamed.mohamed@st.ovgu.de

GaborJaniga

janiga@ovgu.de

Pap

Elemer

elemer.pap@ovgu.de

Dominique Thevenin

thevenin@ovgu.de

University of Magdeburg Otto von Guericke

Magdeburg, Germany

coupling an in-house library (OPAL) relying on Evolutionary Algorithms with an industrial flow simulation code

(ANSYS-Fluent). The output power coefficient is the single

target function and must be maximized. The relative performance improvement amounts to more than 50% at the

design point compared with the classical configuration.

ABSTRACT

Wind energy is one of the most promising sources of renewable energy. It is pollution-free, available locally, and

can help in reducing the dependency on fossil fuels. Although a considerable progress has already been achieved,

the available technical design is not yet adequate to develop reliable wind energy converters for conditions corresponding to low wind speeds and urban areas. The Savonius turbine appears to be particularly promising for such

conditions, but suffers from a poor efficiency. The present

study considers an improved design in order to increase the

output power and the static torque of the classical threeblade Savonius turbine, thus obtaining a higher efficiency

and better self-starting capability. To achieve this objective three geometrical properties are optimized simultaneously: 1) the position of an obstacle shielding the returning blade; 2) the position of a deflector guiding the wind

toward the advancing blade; and 3) the blade skeleton line.

As a whole, fifteen free parameters are taken into account

KEYWORDS

Evolutionary Algorithms, Turbomachines.

Introduction

useful form of energy, such as electricity, using wind turbines. At the end of 2008, worldwide nameplate capacity of wind-powered generators was 121.2 GW. At that

time, wind power accounted for roughly 1.5% of world1

c 2010 by ASME

Copyright

Nomenclature

Cm

Cms

CP

Blade height

Rsh

Gap width

Output torque

Ts

Static torque

Obstacle angle

Deflector angle

Speed ratio

Orientation angle

Density

Angular speed

Figure 1.

Savonius rotor

CO2 during the critical period up to 2020, when greenhouse

gases must begin to decline in order to avoid dangerous climate change. It has been estimated that the installed wind

capacity will produce 260 TWh and save 158 million tons

of CO2 every year [2].

The storage and distribution of electrical power is still

a major problem, in particular when the generated quantity

is varying considerably with time and location, like is the

case for wind energy. A local electricity production, within

urban areas, would help solve this issue. The Savonius turbine appears in principle to be particularly promising for

such conditions, since it is a slow-running machine with a

very compact design.

The Savonius Turbine

S.J. Savonius initially developed the vertical axis Savonius rotor in the late 1920s. The concept of the Savonius

rotor is based on cutting a cylinder into two halves along

the central plane and then moving the two half cylinders

sideways along the cutting plane, so that the cross-section

resembles the letter S (Fig. 1, [3]).

The Savonius rotor, which is a slow-running vertical

axis wind machine (typically used for ' 1.0 or below, see

Eq. 1) has unfortunately a poor efficiency when considering the standard design: theoretically, Cp ' 0.2 at best [4].

Nevertheless, it presents many advantages for specific applications, in particular due to its simplicity, resulting robustness, compactness and low cost. If a higher efficiency

could be obtained, the Savonius rotor would become a very

interesting complementary source of electricity.

having doubled between 2005 and 2008. Several countries

have achieved relatively high levels of wind power penetration, such as 19% of stationary electricity production

in Denmark, 11% in Spain and Portugal, and 7% in Germany and the Republic of Ireland. As of May 2009, eighty

countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis [1]. Wind energy is perhaps the only power

c 2010 by ASME

Copyright

These previous studies have demonstrated that Savonius turbines show considerable drawbacks compared to

conventional turbines, in particular a low efficiency and

poor starting characteristics. Previous investigations of our

research group have shown that guiding and obstacle plates

placed appropriately in front of the turbine might increase

its efficiency [6,7]. Using a contoured shape might be even

more promising but would require considerably more free

parameters and will therefore be considered in a later step.

Building on top of our previous results, the blade shape will

be simultaneously modified in the present work. The optimization process thus relies on free design variables that

describe the position and angles of the plates, the blade

shape (skeleton line) as well as the gap width s (Fig. 3).

At the end, fifteen free parameters are thus considered (X1 ,

Y1 , X2 , Y2 , Xd1 , Yd1 , Xd2 , Yd2 , XP1 , YP1 , XP2 , YP2 , XP3 , YP3

and s). The objective function considers only one output of

the simulation, that should be maximized: the output power

coefficient Cp .

Advancing

Blade

Wind

(0,0)

Returning

Blade

Figure 2.

Savonius rotor

defined as:

= R/U

(1)

velocity U, the mechanical power P and the mechanical

torque on the axis of a Savonius turbine can respectively be

written as follows:

Cp =

P

RHU 3

Optimization Methodology

Optimization is a body of mathematical results and numerical methods for finding and identifying the best candidate from a collection of alternatives, without having to

explicitly enumerate and evaluate all possible alternatives.

Optimization is a key engineering task, since the function

of any engineer is to design new, better, more efficient, and

less expensive systems as well as to devise plans and procedures for an improved operation of existing systems. Nevertheless, such a real optimization relying on suitable algorithmic procedures is still a relatively new approach, in

particular when considering turbomachines [8, 9].

The central goal when designing an improved Savonius turbine is to achieve high efficiency, i.e., high power

output. Furthermore, it must be kept in mind that turbomachines often operate outside the nominal (or design) conditions. Therefore, after optimizing the configuration for the

maximum output power coefficient, known to occur for a

speed ratio ' 0.7, the full range of speed ratios will be

considered.

In our group, a considerable experience is available

concerning the mathematical optimization relying on evaluations based on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

[10]. We therefore employ our own optimization library,

OPAL (for OPtimization ALgorithms), containing many

(2)

and

Cm =

T

R2 HU 2

(3)

and the torque coefficient. In the following sections, a rotor is called a conventional Savonius rotor if semi-cylinder

blades are used without any flow guiding plates.

Purpose of the Present Work

The conventional, three-blade configuration of the rotor has been extensively studied in the past [5]. The corresponding values of Cp and Cm have been determined numerically and sometimes experimentally as a function of

the speed ratio . This has been used to validate extensively our numerical procedure by comparison with published, reference data [6].

3

c 2010 by ASME

Copyright

Xd2

(a)

Xd1

New configuration

X1>R

Input

Input file

file

(parameter

(parameter values)

values)

Advancing

Blade

Yd1

Yd2

Deflector

Wind

Gambit

Gambit

Journal

Journal file

file

Fluent

Fluent

Journal

Journal file

file

Gambit 2.4

Fluent 6.3

Geometry

++

Mesh

Mesh

CFD

Simulation

+

OPAL

Evolutionary

Evolutionary

Algorithms

(0,0)

Y2

Obstacle

Y1

x

Output

Output file

file

(objective

(objective value)

value)

Post-processing

Post-processing

X2>R

Returning

Blade

C

C program

program on

on Linux

Linux for

for automatization

automatization

P4

(b)

P3(XP3,YP3)

Y

Fixed points

Blade

center

(P0)

Figure 4.

pling.

r

X

amplitude is considered. All further details can be found

elsewhere [6], where the same procedure has been applied

to a simpler configuration.

A fully automatic optimization finally takes place, using OPAL (decision-maker for the configurations to investigate), the commercial tool Gambit for geometry and grid

generation (including quality check) and the industrial CFD

code ANSYS-Fluent to compute the flow field around the

Savonius turbine. As a result of the CFD computation the

output power coefficient is determined, and is stored in a result file. The procedure is automated using journal scripts

(to restart Gambit, Fluent) and a master program written

in C, calling all codes in the right sequence as shown in

Fig. 4. By checking the values stored in the result file,

OPAL is able to decide how to modify the input parameters

before starting a new iteration. The fully coupled optimization procedure is a complex task, which has been described

in detail in previous publications [1012].

P1(XP1,YP1)

Variable points

S

P2(XP2,YP2)

P5

Turbine shaft

Figure 3.

a) plate parameters

(X1 ,Y1 , X2 ,Y2 , Xd1 ,Yd1 , Xd2 and Yd2 ); b) XP1 ,YP1 , XP2 ,YP2 , XP3

and YP3 used to modify the blade shape; additionally, the gap width s.

(in-house codes, ANSYS-Fluent, ANSYS-CFX) have been

coupled in the past with this optimizer. It has already

been employed successfully to improve a variety of applications like heat exchangers [11], burners [12] or turbomachines [6, 7, 13, 14]. These studies have in particular demonstrated the efficiency of evolutionary algorithms

(EA) for CFD-based optimization. Using EA, a very robust procedure can be obtained and local extremal values

do not falsify the results [15, 16]. Therefore, the present

study relies again on EA with a population size of 20 in

the first generation and a total number of generations of

23. The optimization process stops automatically after this

twenty-third generation, since the observed progress in the

objective function falls below the user-prescribed threshold. When computing a new generation from the previous

one, a survival probability of 50%, an averaging probability of 33.3% and a crossover probability of 16.7% (total

100%) are implemented. In the additional mutation step,

simulation of the flow around a Savonius turbine is a challenging task, mainly due to its highly time-dependent nature and to the fact that flow separation plays an important

role for the efficiency of the system. It is therefore necessary to check the full numerical procedure with great care.

Afterwards, the resulting methodology must be validated.

All flow simulations presented in this work rely on

the industrial software ANSYS-Fluent 6.3. The unsteady

Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes equations are solved

4

c 2010 by ASME

Copyright

using the SIMPLE (Semi-Implicit Method for Pressurelinked Equations) algorithm for pressure-velocity coupling.

The flow variables and all turbulent quantities are discretized in a finite volume formulation using a secondorder upwind scheme. For the present configuration, twodimensional simulations are sufficient (no geometry change

in the third direction when excluding boundary effects), so

that very fine grids can be employed.

The unsteady flow is solved by using the Sliding Mesh

Model (SMM). Three complete revolutions are always

computed, using a constant time-step; the first one is used

to initiate the correct flow solution, while the flow properties (in particular the power coefficient Cp and the torque

coefficient Cm ) are obtained by averaging the results during

the last two revolutions. On a standard PC, one evaluation

(i.e., three revolutions for one specific configuration) takes

about 280 minutes of computing time.

A grid-independence study has been first carried out

for one geometrical configuration. Several different twodimensional, unstructured grids of increasing density and

quality, composed of 3 400 up to 116 000 cells, have been

tested for the standard Savonius turbine with a specified obstacle plate. All grids employing more than 71 000 cells

lead to a relative variation of the output quantity below

1.8% [6]. Since the cost of a CFD evaluation obviously

increases rapidly with the number of grid cells, the intermediate grid range between 75 000 and 95 000 cells has been

retained for all further results shown in the present paper.

The grid is refined in the vicinity of the turbine and of the

solid surfaces, capturing all relevant flow features (Fig. 5).

The minimum size of the computational domain has been

checked in a separate project [17]. It has been found that a

domain size equal to 27 times the rotor radius is needed to

get a result independent from any influence of the boundary conditions. This is in agreement with previous studies,

mostly recommending 10 times the rotor radius on each

side of the turbine.

Figure 5.

of the turbine

experiments for the target function, Cp , when using the realizable k turbulence model. A similar tendency has

been observed for other studies involving cambered blades

[13, 14], proving the interest of the realizable k model

for fast CFD simulations. The fact that the Reynolds Stress

Model does not lead to an improvement compared to standard two-equation models is probably a result of its higher

sensitivity toward inflow turbulent boundary conditions,

which are usually not measured in the experiments.

The near-wall treatment relies on standard wall functions. The y+ -values found near all walls in the employed

grid are around 60 and fall therefore within the recommended range for best-practice CFD (30 < y+ < 300). A

boundary layer grid is employed near the surfaces.

Since many different configurations must be evaluated

during the optimization, the computing time associated

with one single CFD computation must be kept acceptable.

As a consequence, only three rotor revolutions are considered, using an appropriate, constant value of the time-step.

The first revolution is only used to initiate a correct flow

solution, while the interesting flow properties (in particular

the power coefficient Cp and the torque coefficient Cm ) are

obtained by averaging the CFD results during the two further revolutions. We have checked separately the influence

of the number of revolutions on the computed turbine performance for the optimal design (Fig. 7), by continuing the

CFD simulation. After 10 revolutions, the average power

coefficient reaches a constant value. The absolute differ-

CFD Validation

identified, the full numerical procedure and in particular the

employed turbulence model have been validated by comparison with published experimental results for a classical

three-blade Savonius turbine [5]. The influence of the turbulence model is shown in Fig. 6. These results demon-

c 2010 by ASME

Copyright

No. of revolutions

0.2

20

0.15

0.1

60

80

100

Realizable k-e model

SST model

Standard k-e model

RSM model

0.05

l =0.7

Instantaneous power coeff.

Average Power Coeff.

0.8

0.4

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.2

15

30

45

60

75

Time

Speed ratio(l)

Figure 6.

40

1.2

Figure 7.

and on the average power coefficient C p computed by CFD for the opti-

only three revolutions equals 0.024. This is an estimation

of the uncertainty associated with the considered optimization process. As shown later in Fig. 8, this inherent uncertainty is very small compared to the range of Cp explored

during the optimization and is thus deemed acceptable. It

amounts to only 6% of the pressure coefficient associated

with the optimal design. The influence of the number of

revolutions on the estimation of Cp by CFD has been investigated systematically in a separate project [17], confirming

the present findings. Only three revolutions have been thus

computed for each design in order to reduce the needed

computational time.

splines (Nonuniform rational B-splines, NURBS). The order of a NURBS curve defines the number of nearby control points that influence any given point on the curve. The

curve is represented mathematically by a polynomial of degree one less than the order of the curve. This means that

the spline order is 5 in our case and the degree of the polynomial is 4. The objective function contains one single output of the simulation, that should be maximized as far as

possible: the power coefficient Cp . The parameter space

considered in the optimization has been defined as documented in Table 1. These domains are selected to prevent

any domain overlap along the Y -direction, to keep realistic

blade shapes and to cover a wide region for positioning the

guiding plates. The reference point of the parameter space

for the blade skeleton line is point P0 , which is the center of

the original, semi-cylindrical shape with radius r as shown

in Fig. 3. The reference point for the remaining space parameters (guiding plates and gap width) is the global center of turbine rotation. During the calculations, a circular

turbine shaft is included with a radius Rsh computed from

Rsh /R = 0.03.

The results presented in Fig. 8 indicate that the considered objective is indeed considerably influenced by the

fifteen free parameters. As a whole, 240 different geometrical settings have been evaluated by CFD, requesting 47

days of total computing time on a standard PC. Note that

the user-waiting time could be considerably reduced by carrying out the requested CFD on a more powerful computer

Optimization of all turbine parameters

previously (Evolutionary Algorithms relying on automated

evaluations through CFD) can now be employed to find the

optimal position of both guiding plates, the gap width and

the blade shape. This is done first for a constant speed

ratio = 0.7, considering a fixed incident wind velocity

U = 10 m/s. This value of is retained since it is known

from the literature that it corresponds to the zone of peak

power coefficient of the conventional Savonius turbine. As

explained previously, fifteen degrees of freedom are left

simultaneously for the optimization (Fig. 3). Regarding

the blade shape, the points P4 and P5 are considered to

be fixed; only P1 , P2 , P3 are changing position. Knowing

c 2010 by ASME

Copyright

Table 1.

Optimum

configuration

Parameter

Minimum allowed

Maximum allowed

Blade shape

Gap width

Blade shape

Xp1/r

XP1 /r

0.53

1.2

YP1 /r

0.24

0.24

XP2 /r

0.24

1.1

YP2 /r

0.94

0.24

XP3 /r

0.24

1.1

YP3 /r

0.24

0.94

s/R

X2/R

Xd1/R

Xd2/R

X1/R

CP

X2/R

Y1/R

Yd2/R

Yp2/r

Yd1/R

Yp3/r

1.1 -0.24 1.1 0.94 0 1.65 0 2.6 -1.1 0 -1.1 -0.7 0.18 0.38

Xp2/r

Yp1/r

1.2 0.24

Xp3/r

0.363

Optimum

configuration

0.024 Absolute

uncertainty

0.156

Three-blade

Savonius turbine

without guiding

plates

Guiding plates

X1d /R

1.2

0.0

Yd1 /R

1.1

1.65

X2d /R

1.88

0.0

Figure 8.

Yd2 /R

1.76

2.6

uration are connected with a thick gray line. The power coefficient of the

X1 /R

1.88

1.1

Y1 /R

0.7

0.0

X2 /R

1.88

1.1

Y2 /R

1.88

0.7

0.53 -0.24 0.24 -0.94 0.24 0.24 -1.2 1.1 -1.88 1.76 -1.88 -0.7 -1.88 -1.88 0.03 0.024

Deflector

Gap width

s/R

0.03

Advancing

Blade

Wind

0.18

or in parallel on a PC cluster [10]. Such a parallel procedure, already implemented in OPAL, has not been used in

the present case but could reduce the needed time by orders

of magnitude, as demonstrated in other studies. Relying

on parallel computers and possibly carrying out each CFD

evaluation again in parallel [10] is clearly necessary when

considering three-dimensional problems. Fortunately, it

is quite straightforward to implement, so that researchers

having access to parallel clusters can solve corresponding

problems within an acceptable lapse of time.

The optimal configuration (highest point in the right

column in Fig. 8, all corresponding parameters being connected by a thick gray line) can now readily be identified for

= 0.7. The corresponding geometry is shown in Fig. 9.

The optimum parameter values are listed in Table 2.

Obstacle

Returning blade

Figure 9.

dure.

as an example in Fig. 10, demonstrating that the employed

grid captures all important flow features in the vicinity of

the rotor and guiding box. This is of course a dynamic

process, difficult to illustrate in a static figure.

At = 0.7 the optimal point found by the optimization

procedure corresponds to an absolute increase of the power

7

c 2010 by ASME

Copyright

Table 2.

Optimal configuration

Part

Parameter

Value

Angle

Blade shape

XP1 /r

0.6077

YP1 /r

-0.1338

XP2 /r

0.2735

YP2 /r

-0.7136

XP3 /r

0.7065

YP3 /r

0.5901

Xd1 /R

-0.3089

Yd1 /R

1.436

Xd2 /R

-0.4591

Yd2 /R

2.388

X1 /R

-1.3638

Y1 /R

-0.1075

X2 /R

-1.691

Y2 /R

-1.5935

s/R

0.0988

Guiding plates

Gap width

= 81.13

Figure 10.

= 0.7).

optimized configuration.

= 77.58

Self-starting capability

as considered here, it is essential to obtain a self-starting

system. To investigate this issue, the static torque exerted

on a turbine at a fixed angle has been computed by CFD

as a function of this angle . Figure 12 shows the obtained

static torque coefficient Cms obtained for the optimal design

compared to the classical three-blade turbine. The experimental results of [5] for a conventional three-blade turbine

are also shown for comparison in Fig. 12. Due to periodicity, the results are only plotted for between 0 and

120 . Compared to the classical turbine, these computations demonstrate that the modifications have a considerable and positive effect on the static torque coefficient, except in a small range (90 100 ). There, the static

torque coefficient is less than the classical one, but remains

strictly positive. Averaging over all angle positions, Cms is

increased by 0.091 for the optimum design.

coefficient by 0.207 compared with the conventional threeblade Savonius turbine (semi-cylindrical blade shape). As

a whole, this means a relative increase of the performance

(measured by the power output coefficient) by 57% for the

optimum design.

Off-design performance

change as a function of , since such a turbine must be

able to work also for off-design conditions. Therefore, the

performance of the optimal configuration has been finally

computed for the full range of useful -values, as shown in

Fig. 11. This figure demonstrates that the improvement of

both torque coefficient and power output coefficient is observed throughout for all values of , compared to the conventional three-blade Savonius turbine. The relative performance increase compared to the standard Savonius configuration is always higher than 50% in the usual operating

range (0.6 1), demonstrating again the interest of the

Practical realization

From the technical point of view many existing systems already rely on a tail vane for optimal alignment into

the wind direction. A similar technical solution would be

used for the Savonius turbine using guiding plates. In this

manner the orientation of the system can be simply, efficiently and automatically controlled. As a whole, the optimized configuration is only slightly more complex, more

expensive and heavier than the original system. Therefore,

8

c 2010 by ASME

Copyright

Savonius

(a)

0.7

Optimum design

% Relative increase

0.6

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

(Conventional design)

0.6

Conventional design

Optimum design

0.4

0.2

0

Negative Torque (no self-starting capability)

0

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.2

1.4

1.6

(b)

angle

0.45

0.4

80

0.35

0.3

60

0.25

0.2

40

0.15

0.1

20

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.2

1.4

for the optimal design (filled squares) compared to the classical

Conclusions

The Savonius turbine is a promising concept for smallscale wind-energy systems, but suffers from a poor efficiency. Therefore, the major objective of the present study

is to identify an improved design, leading to higher values

of the power coefficient and of the static torque of the threeblade Savonius turbine, thus obtaining a higher efficiency

and better self-starting capability. For this purpose, frontal

plates guiding the wind toward the advancing blade are introduced. Simultaneously, the installation of these guiding

plates improve the self-starting capability of the system.

After validating the numerical procedure against experimental measurements, accurate CFD simulations of the

unsteady flow around a conventional three-blade Savonius

turbine have been carried out. The realizable k turbulence model can be employed for a quantitative analysis of

the performance, provided a sufficiently fine grid is used.

The blade shape, position and angles of the guiding

plates and gap width have then been optimized in a fully

automatic manner, in order to obtain the best possible performance, as measured by the power coefficient Cp . The

optimization relies on evolutionary algorithms, while all

geometrical configurations are evaluated by CFD. This optimization procedure is able to identify considerably better configurations than the conventional three-blade Savonius turbine, leading in particular to a relative increase of

the power output coefficient by 57% at = 0.7. A perfor-

1.6

Speed ratio(l)

Figure 11.

120

0

0.2

90

0.05

0

60

Figure 12.

100

0.5

30

Rotation angle(q)

squares): a) torque coefficient; b) power coefficient. The corresponding

relative increase compared to the standard configuration is shown with

black plus.

compensate these drawbacks within a short time after installation.

It has been shown in Fig. 11 that the optimum design

leads to a broader operating range. It can be in particular

employed for higher speed ratios , making it attractive to

exploit wind energy at higher velocity. The present study

does not consider transient effects (wind gusts, storms), a

problem common to all wind turbines and mostly leading

to material limitations.

c 2010 by ASME

Copyright

range of the conventional design. At the same time, the

operating range is extended up to = 1.5. This positive effect is also observed for the torque coefficient. The optimal

design still ensures self-starting capability for all rotating

angles. Therefore, this optimal configuration appears to be

very promising for wind energy generation, in particular in

urban areas.

A further optimization should consider a contoured

nozzle as guiding box in front of the turbine. It would also

be interesting to consider simultaneously the optimization

over the full operating range. In both cases, the computational costs will increase considerably.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The Ph.D. work of Mr. Mohamed is supported financially by a bursary of the Egyptian government.

REFERENCES

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c 2010 by ASME

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