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You are on page 1of 14

and Industrial Aerodynamics

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jweia

in the numerical wind tunnel model

Jang-Oh Mo a, Amanullah Choudhry a, Maziar Arjomandi a, Young-Ho Lee b,n

a

b

School of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia

Division of Mechanical and Energy-System Engineering, Korea Maritime, Busan 606-791, South Korea

a r t i c l e i n f o

abstract

Article history:

Received 25 January 2012

Received in revised form

30 August 2012

Accepted 26 September 2012

Available online 23 November 2012

Large Eddy Simulation of NREL Phase VI wind turbine was performed in a virtual wind tunnel

(24.4 m 36.6 m) in order to achieve a better understanding of the turbine wake characteristics. For

this purpose, ANSYS-Fluent package was used to run the simulation using the dynamic SmagorinskyLilly model. For the purpose of validation, the pressure distribution at different span-wise sections

along the turbine blade and the power produced by the wind turbine were compared with the

published experimental results for the NREL phase VI rotor tested in the NASA wind tunnel with the

same dimensions as in the model and a good agreement was found between the two. The airow

immediately behind the wind turbine was observed to be a system of intense and stable rotating helical

vortices, which determined the dynamics of the far-wake. The system of vortices in the near-wake

became unstable and broke down due to wake instability at a distance of ve rotor diameters

downstream of the wind turbine. This was dened as the boundary between the near- and far-wake

regions. The collapsed spiral wake was found to spread in all directions in the far-wake resulting in the

formation of the two pairs of counter-rotating vortices which caused the gradual increase of turbulence

in these regions. The turbulence intensity in the wake was observed to increase immediately behind the

turbine with a maximum of 12.12% at a distance of three rotor diameters downstream of the turbine,

after which a gradual decrease in the turbulence intensity was observed in the near-wake regions due

to wake instability. However, in the far-wake regions, due to counter-rotating vortices formed by

the wake instability, the turbulence intensity showed a tendency to increase intensity. Finally the timeaveraged wake velocities from the LES, with and without the blockage corrections, were compared

with WAsP and a comparatively good agreement for the axial velocity predictions was observed in

the far-wake.

& 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords:

Large eddy simulation

Wind turbine

Wake instability

Counter-rotating vortex pairs

Vortex breakdown

Turbulence intensity

WAsP

Blockage correction

Numerical wind tunnel

1. Introduction

Wind farms are locally clustered groups of wind turbines in

the same location used to produce electric power. There are many

advantages to this commercial structure; however protable

wind resources are limited to distinct geographical areas with

relatively higher wind speeds. The introduction of multiple

turbines into these areas increases the total wind energy produced and results in a reduction of the overall cost from an

economic point of view due to the concentration of maintenance

equipment and spare parts (Manwell et al., 2002). As of October

2010, 52 wind farms greater than 100 kW capacity operate in

Australia (WEC, 2010). The Waubra wind farm near Ballarat,

Victora, completed in 2009, is the largest wind farm in the

E-mail address: lyh@hhu.ac.kr (Y.-H. Lee).

0167-6105/$ - see front matter & 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jweia.2012.09.002

173 km and rated at 192 MW. However, in terms of generating

capacity, Lake Bonney wind farm near Millicent, South Australia is

the largest with 239.5 MW, despite having only 99 turbines (ABS,

2010; WEC, 2010).

However, despite the commercial benets of locally concentrated wind turbines, several drawbacks cannot be overlooked

because in a wind farm most wind turbines operate in the wakes

of other wind turbines. Wakes behind horizontal axis wind

turbines are complex turbulent ow structures with rotational

motion induced by the turbine blades, radial pressure slopes and

tip vortices originating from the tip vortex-trailing edge interaction by local cross ows along the trailing edge (Mo and Lee,

2011; Wagner et al., 1996). From the perspective of a wind farm

optimal layout, there are two major issues related to the wakes of

wind turbines. The rst one is the velocity decit, which results

in reduced power production for the downwind wind turbines.

The second is the increase in the turbulence levels, which leads

12

negative effects on the fatigue life of the turbine blades

(Barthelmie et al., 2009,2008; Chamorro and Porte-Agel, 2009).

The wake behind a wind turbine can be classied either as

near-wake or as far-wake; however no distinct classication of

the two regions exists. According to Vermeer et al. (2003), the

near-wake is dened as the area just behind the wind turbine

rotor and is considered to be one diameter downstream. It is the

region of the wake where the effects of the rotor aerodynamics

are apparent on the wake structure. On the other hand, the farwake is the region beyond the near-wake. Here the effects of the

wake on the downstream wind turbines in farm situations are

generally considered. Understanding the turbulent wake characteristics behind a wind turbine has been the subject of research,

both experimentally and numerically, over the last few decades

(Vermeer et al., 2003; Corten and Nederland, 2001; Crespo et al.,

1985).

In general the approaches reviewed by Vermeer et al. (2003)

and Crespo et al. (1985) have been adopted to study wind

turbine wakes. The work presented here is a continuation of the

UPMWAKE model proposed by Crespo et al. (1985) and Crespo

and Hernandez (1989) which was based on the k e closure

methods and the explicit algebraic model for the predictions

of components of the turbulent stress tensor as proposed by

Gomez-Elvira et al. (2005). However, in all these methods, the

Reynolds-Averaged NavierStokes (RANS) was used over all the

turbulence scales and thus made it difcult to accurately predict

the turbulence characteristics of the wake.

Other semi-empirical methods like the Lissaman model

(Lissaman and Bate, 1977; Lissaman et al., 1982) and its derivatives (Vermeulen et al., 1981) and the Ris model (Jensen, 1983;

Katic et al., 1986) are based on using a near-Gaussian wake shape

and a top-hat shape for the velocity decits respectively. Furthermore, certain details in the ow eld around the turbine are

neglected and the wakes are assumed to expand linearly with

distance. A number of attempts have been made to establish more

accurate wake models. However, so far advanced and detailed

wake models, even when including an explicit representation of

turbulence and its impact on the wake expansion, have not been

able to produce convincingly better predictions (Barthelmie et al.,

2006). Therefore, to overcome the limitations of these models,

large eddy simulation (LES) has been used in this research as the

tool to investigate the details of the wind turbine wake. LES will

reproduce the unsteady oscillations of the ow characteristics over

all scales larger than the grid size; consequently, the much-needed

details of the turbulent characteristics of the wake in controlled

environments have been obtained and presented in this paper.

To the best of our knowledge, very little work has been

published in which LES is used to simulate a wind turbine

CFD, based on the RANS equations to acquire comparatively fast

results (Menter et al., 2006; Potsdam and Mavriplis, 2009;

Srensen et al., 2002b). Others have used LES to simulate the

wake ows without the turbines, combined with the actuator line

and disc methodologies (Wu and Porte-Agel, 2001). However, the

approach of return to the basics as proposed by Vermeer et al.

(2003) is highly valuable, in that it provides the opportunity to

study the aerodynamics of the wind turbines in controlled

environments like wind tunnels. The objective of this investigation is to achieve a better understanding of the turbulent wake

characteristics behind the wind turbine (NREL Phase VI wind

turbine) that was tested in the NASA Ames 24.4 m 36.6 m wind

tunnel. For this, LES was carried out using the commercial CFD

code, ANSYS FLUENT 13. The results of the LES have been

compared with the aerodynamics of the wind turbine blade that

were obtained experimentally by the NREL (Hand and Simms,

2001; Simms, 2001). Particular emphasis has been placed on the

study of the distribution of the overall wake structure, timeaveraged axial velocity (corresponding to velocity decit) and the

increased turbulence intensity in cross-sectional planes perpendicular to the axis of the wake at uniform incoming velocity.

The study will be useful for the designers to plan and design

future wind farms for the purpose of improvement of the overall

wind farm efciency and the fatigue life of the wind turbines. It

also provides understanding of the turbulent wake characteristics

of a wind turbine and the much needed results required for

validation of turbine wake models. For this reason, the results of

LES were also compared with the simple equations provided by

WAsP to estimate the wake velocities in the far-wake.

2. Numerical simulation

2.1. Specication of the NREL phase VI wind turbine

In May 2000, NREL successfully completed the analysis of the

Phase VI wind turbine in the NASA Ames 24.4 m 36.6 m wind

tunnel. The details of the experiment and the results were then

released on the NREL website [1] in order to verify the performance of commercially available analytical codes developed

around the world, while keeping the dependence on upstream

parameters, such as the atmospheric boundary layer velocity and

turbulence intensity proles, to a minimum. The purpose was

therefore to gain an insight into the wind turbine aerodynamics

and loads with minimal interference from the upstream. Following in similar footsteps, the aim of the present article is to gain an

in-depth understanding of turbine wake characteristics by suing

the NREL Phase VI wind turbine for CFD simulations, as the

Fig. 1. (a) NREL Phase VI wind turbine in the NASA-Ames 24.4 m by 36.6 m wind tunnel and (b) CFD model of the turbine in a numerical wind tunnel.

available and can be accessed easily.

The NREL Phase VI wind turbine is a stall-regulated wind

turbine that produces a rated output power of 19.8 kW. The CFD

model of the NREL Phase VI wind turbine is presented in Fig. 1 in

comparison with the experiment, based on the shape data

information (Hand and Simms, 2001; Simms, 2001). The details

of the turbine model are also shown in Table 1. For the case

considered in the present study, the rotor cone angle is set at 01,

and the blade pitch angle is set at 51. This rotates the blade tip

chord line by 51 towards feather, relative to the rotor plane, thus

pointing the leading edge to the oncoming wind. The twist angle

is a maximum of 20.041at the root, and reduces to a minimum of

2.151at the tip in order to maximize aerodynamic performance.

The details of the NREL wind turbine blade are shown in Fig. 2.

The S809 airfoil was used in the construction of the blades. The

S809 airfoil is a 21% thick airfoil, shown in Fig. 3, specically

designed by Somers [1] for sustained maximum lift, insensitivity

to surface roughness, and low prole drag.

2.2. Computational mesh

The computational domain has a height of 24.4 m and a width

of 36.6 m, corresponding to NASA-Ames 24.4 m 36.6 m wind

tunnel, with a length of 222.32 m in the stream-wise direction.

This length corresponds to twenty times the rotor diameter as

shown in Fig. 4. The wind turbine has a tower height of 11.5 m

and is placed approximately in the middle of the wind tunnel at a

distance of 2d from the upwind boundary. The wind turbine

blades are operating under uniform velocity conditions as in the

experiment and, therefore, we do not need to consider the

boundary layer prole at the inlet. However, in the real eld

conditions, such an effect, including the turbulence prole, should

be considered as the inlet boundary conditions. According to

Hand and Simms (2001) and Simms (2001), the key factor in the

Table 1

Specication of NREL Phase VI wind turbine.

Number of blades, Z

Rotor diameter, d

Rotor radius, R

Rotational speed, N

Cut-in wind speed, Vc

Rated power

Power regulation

Rotational direction

Global pitch angle

Tower height, h

2

10.058 m

5.029 m

71.9 rpm

6 m/s

19.8 kW

stall

CCW

51

11.5 m

13

choice of wind tunnel was the test section size and minimal

blockage it offered for the subject experiment. It was observed by

Simms (2001) that the ratio of the test section speed to the test

section speed required to achieve the same turbine performance

in the absence of the test section boundaries, for different pitch

angles of the turbine blade, was consistently less than 1%. This

indicated that blockage was of minimal concern in the experiments. Similar observations were made by Srensen et al. (2002a)

during their simulation where they concluded that the tunnel

blockage was of negligible concern and was the key parameter for

the choice of the tunnel.

The computational domain for the wind turbine placed in the

wind tunnel is illustrated in Fig. 5. The domain consists of two

parts, namely the moving parts (cylinder and rectangle part) and

the stationary part (wind tunnel part). The sliding mesh technique is applied to the moving parts with two mesh interface zones

(interface zone 1: cylindrical part and rectangular part, interface

zone 2: cylindrical part and wind tunnel part) in the shared faces

where the meshes overlap. A sliding mesh technique is a recommended method for computation of the unsteady ow led when

a time-accurate solution (rather than a time-averaged solution) for

rotor-stator interaction is desired. The sliding mesh model is the most

accurate method for simulating ows in multiple moving reference

frames, but it is also the most computationally demanding.

The rectangle surrounding the two blades was composed of

hexahedral meshes with 20 ination layers on the blade surface, a

spacing ratio of 1.1 in the normal direction and a rst height of

0.01 mm in order to accurately capture the boundary layer region.

Y value was set to approximately one at the blade tip and

decreased towards the blade root. The grid distribution around

the rotor blade is shown in Fig. 6. The total number of cells in the

numerical grid was 3.6 106, consisting of hexahedral meshes

over the total domain and partially cooper meshes in the

cylindrical part. The blade was meshed in the chordwise direction

with 100 nodes on both the upper and lower surfaces with a

higher concentration near the leading and the trailing edge

regions. Furthermore, 150 nodes were used in the spanwise

direction as indicated in Fig. 6. The original NREL S809 airfoil

that contained a sharp trailing edge was clearly not the case for

the real blade. This feature, furthermore, unnecessarily complicated the construction of the hexahedral grids and therefore a

blunt trailing edge was used along the blade length by cutting at

0.99 position of each chord length.

2.3. Boundary conditions

A uniform velocity condition of 7 m/s with turbulence intensity of 0.2% was applied as the boundary condition at the inlet

where the ow enters the computational domain. It should be

noted that the uniform velocity prole and the small turbulence

intensity considered in this research corresponds to the experiments conducted by the NREL. For the outlet where the ow

leaves the domain, the ambient domain condition was selected.

Wall condition was applied at the walls of the tunnel, ground and

14

Fig. 4. Schematic of NASA Ames 24.4 m 36.6 m wind tunnel with the NREL Phase VI wind turbine.

The steady state computation was rst carried out for approximately 1000 iterations to have a convergence below 10 3, and

then the unsteady computation used the steady state ow

solution as the starting condition. The simulation took approximately 120 h per case on a single CPU with eight cores with

processing power of 2.4 GHz, based on operating system Linux.

The blade completed one cycle of revolution in 0.834 s with a

time step size of 0.005795 s corresponding to a blade rotation of

2.51. LES calculation was run for a sufciently long ow-time to

obtain stable statistics of the ow and turbulence. The 1440

sampling data during 8.35 s, corresponding to exactly 10 rotations

of the wind turbine, were taken.

ambient pressure was applied at the downstream. Spectral

synthesizing technique was employed for modeling the turbulent

intensity at the inlet. It is based on the random ow generation

technique originally proposed by Kraichnan (1970) and then

modied by Smirnov et al. (2001). In this method, the uctuating

velocity components are computed by synthesizing a divergencefree velocity-vector eld from the summation of Fourier harmonics.

The present work was carried out using an ANSYS FLUENT

13.0, a general-purpose commercial CFD code. FLUENT employs a

cell-centered nite-volume method based on a multi-dimensional

linear reconstruction scheme, which permits use of computational elements with arbitrary polyhedral topology, including

quadrilateral, hexahedral, triangular, tetrahedral, pyramidal, prismatic, and hybrid meshes. There are several choices of the solver

algorithms in FLUENT including coupled explicit, coupled implicit

and segregated solvers. For the computations presented in this

paper, we used the coupled implicit exclusively to speed up

the convergence. The convective terms were discretised using

Bounded Central Differencing scheme.

model

Turbulent ows are characterized by eddies with a wide range of

length and time scales. The largest eddies are typically comparable

in size to the characteristic length of the mean ow (e.g., shear layer

thickness). The smallest scales are responsible for the dissipation of

turbulence kinetic energy. It is possible, in theory, to directly resolve

the whole spectrum of turbulent scales by using an approach known

as direct numerical simulation (DNS). No modeling is required in

DNS. However, DNS is not feasible for practical engineering problems involving high Reynolds number ows. The cost required for

DNS to resolve the entire range of scales is proportional to Re3t ,

where Ret is the turbulent Reynolds number. In large eddy simulation (LES), large eddies are resolved directly, while small eddies are

modeled. LES can be considered as an intermediate between DNS

and RANS (Reynolds-Averaged NavierStokes equations). Resolving

only the large eddies allows one to use much coarser mesh and

larger time-step sizes in LES than in DNS. However, LES still requires

substantially ner meshes than those typically used for RANS

calculations. In addition, LES has to be run for sufciently long

ow-times to obtain stable statistics of the ow being modeled. As a

result, the computational cost involved with LES in normally orders

of magnitudes higher than that for steady RANS calculation in terms

15

a necessity for LES, especially for industrial applications.

The ltered continuum and NavierStokes equations are given

as follows:

@r

@

rui 0

@xi

@t

@

@

@ @p @ti,j

rui

rui uj

si,j

@t

@xj

@xj

@xi @xj

3 correspond to the x, y and z directions), si,j is the stress tensor

due to molecular viscosity and ti,j is the subgrid-scale stress and

are dened by the following equations:

@ui @uj

2 @u

si,j m

3

m l di,j

3 @xl

@xj

@xi

The subgrid-scale stresses resulting from the ltering operation are unknown, and require modelling. The subgrid-scale

turbulence models employ the Boussinesq hypothesis (Hinze,

1959) as in the RANS models and therefore the subgrid-scale

turbulent stresses can be computed from the following:

ti,j

1

t d 2 mt Si,j

3 k,k i,j

part of the subgrid-scale stresses tk,k is not modelled, but added

to the ltered static pressure term. The rate of strain tensor for

the resolved scale is represented by Si,j and is dened by the

following expression:

1 @ui @uj

Si,j

6

2 @xj

@xi

Germano et al. (1991) and subsequently Lilly (1992) conceived

a procedure in which the Smagorinsky model constant, CS is

dynamically computed based on the information provided by the

resolved scales of motion. The dynamic procedure thus obviates

the need for users to specify the model constant CS in advance of

the simulation. The concept of the dynamic procedure is to apply

a second lter (called the test lter) to the equations of motion.

The new lter width (D

Both lters produce a resolved ow eld. The difference between

the two resolved elds is the contribution of the small scales, the

size of which is in between the grid lter and the test lter. The

information related to these scales is used to compute the model

constant. In ANSYS FLUENT, variable density formulation of the

model is considered and explained as follows.

At the test ltered eld level, the SGS stress tensor can be

expressed as:

d

d

b

T ij rd

ui uj r

ui r

uj =r

7

Both Tij and ti,j are modeled the same way with the

Smagorinsky-Lilly model, assuming scale similarity:

~ S~ ij 1 S~ dij

tij 2C rD2 9S9

8

kk

3

1b

b 2 9b

~ b

bD

S9

S~ ij S~ kk dij

T ij 2C r

3

to

be the same

and independent of the ltering process C C 2s . The grid

ltered SGS and the test-ltered SGS are related by the Germano

identity such that:

b~ u~ 1 r

b u~ i r

b u~ j

ij T ij tij ru

10

i j

b

r

where ij is computable from the resolved large eddy eld.

Substituting the grid-lter Smagorinsky-Lilly model and Eq. (9)

into Eq. (10), the following expressions can be derived for C with

the contraction obtained from the least square analysis of Lilly:

Lij Lkk dij =3

C

11

M ij M ij

with

Mij 2

b

b

b 2r

b

b

D

S~

S~ ij rD2

S~

S~ ij

12

and p

its validation can be found in the article by Kim (2004).

C s C was obtained using the dynamic Smagorinsky-Lilly

model in time and space over a fairly wide range. To avoid

16

blade length. Note that Time averaging was performed using the

total simulation time of 8.35 s, corresponding to ten revolutions

of the turbine blade. A small discrepancy can be observed near the

suction side at x/c 0 at r/R 0.95, the outermost region of the

blade, due to tip vortices. Since the wake characteristics of a wind

turbine are closely related to the change in axial and angular

momentum (Burton, 2001) that gives rise to the pressure distribution on the blade, accurate predictions of the pressure

coefcients along the blade provide the necessary validation for

the subsequent wake analysis.

The measured and computed pressure distributions at different spanwise locations along the blade length for a wind speed of

7 m/s and yaw angle of 01 are shown in Fig. 7. The spanwise or

radial sections presented are at a distance of 0.3R, 0.47R, 0.63R,

0.8R and 0.95R. The computed LES results of time-averaged

pressure distributions show a very good quantitative agreement

with the pressure distribution measurements (Hand and Simms,

2001; Simms, 2001) for the different span-wise sections along the

The oscillating power output of the wind turbine is shown in

Fig. 8. The time-averaged power is 5.826 kW. The power curve has

some irregularities but shows a stable behaviour with an approximate time interval of 0.42 s and a frequency of 2.38 Hz as

observed in Fig. 9. In reality the uctuating power curve has

spectral attributes and it is often useful to analyze them for

interpretation of the time-sequence data from a transient

Eq. (11) are locally averaged (or ltered) using the test-lter. In

ANSYS FLUENT, Cs is also clipped at zero and 0.23 by default. In

this research, the dynamic Smagorinsky-Lilly model was applied

to yield the best results for a wide range of ows.

Fig. 7. Comparison between the experimental (Hand and Simms, 2001; Simms, 2001) and the LES result of time-averaged chordwise pressure coefcient at selected

spanwise sections along the blade at an inlet velocity of 7 m/s. (a) r/R=0.3, (b) r/R=0.47, (c) r/R=0.63, (d) r/R=0.8 and (e) r/R=0.95.

us to take any time dependent data and resolve it into an

equivalent summation of sine and cosine waves. In the current

research FFT analysis using 1440 sampling power data acquired at

each time step was performed and the result with different

frequencies are presented in Fig. 7. The results show that 1st

frequency of the oscillating curve is 2.42 Hz with amplitude of

0.04 kW, and the 2nd and 3rd frequencies are 4.83 Hz and 2.29 Hz

with amplitudes of 0.0297 kW and 0.0238 kW, respectively.

Therefore, the 1st frequency of 2.42 Hz calculated by the FFT

analysis determines the major uctuating power frequency and

closely matches the 1st frequency of 2.38 Hz observed in Fig. 9

with a difference of only 1.65%.

17

Mavriplis, 2009; Srensen et al., 2002b) have shown that the

steady-state calculations with two-equation turbulence models

have the tendency to over predict the power output from a

minimum of 9.315% up to a maximum of 64.375% when compared with the experimental data (Hand and Simms, 2001;

Simms, 2001). As presented in Table 2, LES calculations in the

present study show a very good agreement with the measured

power output. Only a slight under-prediction of 3.093% is

observed. It is believed that this difference comes from the

convergence criteria rather than the computational mesh number

around the rotor blades. The convergence criteria sensitivity

analysis was performed for two values of 1 10 3 and 2 10 3

for one cycle of revolution of the turbine blade. The results

indicated a 2% difference between the two criteria. However,

the computational cost associated with the 1 10 3 criteria was

approximately twice as much when compared with 2 10 3 due

to the low slope of the residual curve. Since for stable statistics of

the ow, a larger number of revolutions was needed (in this case

10 revolutions were simulated), therefore, the convergence criterion for the residuals was set to a value to 2 10 3.

Similarly due to limited computer resources grid sensitivity

checks could not be performed. However, it is anticipated that the

grid sensitivity has a little effect on the power output due to the

ne mesh used for the boundary layer region of the blade surface

from root to tip. On the other hand, for the downstream wake

region an equal mesh size of 0.25 m interval was used in all

directions. This mesh size was the allowable minimum size due to

the restrictions put by our computer resources. Even though grid

sensitivity in the wake region affects the wake length and

instability, sudden changes in ow patterns are not expected

because the aerodynamic characteristics of the blades determine

the ow characteristics of the near-wake (Burton, 2001) and these

characteristics have shown a very good agreement with the

experimental results.

Since the turbulent wake measurements of wind turbines have

not been performed in wind tunnels, there are no experimental

results that can validate the LES results for the turbulent wake

characteristics. However, since aerodynamic characteristics like

pressure coefcients and power output have been predicted with

reasonable accuracy, and since the turbulent wake characteristics

depend largely on these aerodynamic characters like the leading

and trailing edge separation (Corten and Nederland, 2001), the

turbulent wake analysis that follows is considered to be sufciently accurate. Moreover, LES is a suitable tool for transition

prediction resolving a wide range of length and time scales

(Launder and Sandham, 2002) and hence it is believed that it will

lead to useful conclusions.

3.2. Velocity proles in the wake

Fig. 9. FFT analysis using 1440 sampling data of power for 7 m/s wind speed.

y-velocity and the y-velocity contours for one upstream and

several normalized downstream locations behind the turbine for

1.75 oz/do1.75 and at the hub centre (x/d0) for the reference wind speed (Vref ) of 7 m/s are presented in Fig. 10.

Table 2

Comparisons of power output from different studies for a wind speed of 7 m/s.

Srensen et al.(2002b)(free condition)

Menter et al. (2006)

Potsdam and Mavriplis, 2009 (NSU3D triangular surface, ne)

LES (unsteady result)

Power (kW)

Power coefcient

Thrust coefcient

6.012

5.452

7.033

9.882

5.826

0.354

0.443

0.414

0.582

0.343

0.487

0.297

0.469

9.315

16.975

64.375

3.093

18

Fig. 10. Comparison of horizontal proles of the time-averaged normalized y-velocity and time-averaged normalized y-velocity contours at corresponding downstream

stations.

The velocity proles for the case without the wind turbine are

also shown in the plots as the blue dotted lines. The axial velocity

(Vy) has been normalized with the reference wind speed. A near

symmetrical behaviour of velocity proles can be observed at

each location. At the upstream location there is no difference in

the normalized velocity except for the region of 0.5 oy/d o0.5,

where the velocity is 0.08% lower than the case when there is no

wind turbine. This is due to the momentum resistance of the wind

turbine and its rotational effect. This velocity decit is generally

catered by the velocity induction factor. On the other hand right

after the airow passes through the wind turbine, there is clear

evidence of the turbine extracting momentum from the incoming

uniform ow and producing a wake. This can be observed from

velocity prole can be observed. The axial velocity falls down

almost to 0.73 of the reference wind speed with a wake width

approximately equal to the rotor diameter. This prole shape can

largely be attributed to the aerodynamic design of the blades and

the rotor hub. The W-shaped velocity prole becomes atter as

the distance increases downstream due to the mixing effect and

the momentum recovery of velocity decit.

It is difcult to dene the wake width from numerical results,

especially when the ow is being constrained by the wind tunnel.

In the current research, the wake width is dened using the wind

speed ratio as the region where the wind speed ratio is smaller

than 0.99. The inlet reference velocity could not be used in this

case and the average velocity in the regions 1.5o z/do 1.0

and 1.0oz/do1.5 for each downstream location is used instead

to dene the wake width at that location. The average velocity

with the wind turbine at these locations increases downstream

and therefore the average velocity increases by 3.37%, 3.54%,

3.82%, 4.1%, 4.53%, 5.15% and 6.04% of the inlet reference velocity.

This is due to the boundary layer effect that results in continuous

supply of momentum into the regions by developing velocity

proles near the side walls of the wind tunnel model.

Using this denition of the wake width, it is interesting to note

that the wake does not expand linearly in the near-wake and

remains approximately constant downstream of the wind turbine

due to the entrainment caused by the wind tunnel. On the other

hand, in external ows, turbulence in the wake mixes the low

velocity uid in the wake with the high velocity uid outside it.

In this way, momentum is transferred into the wake; the wake

expands, and the velocity decit is reduced. In a wind tunnel

experiment, gradual increase in the velocity as compared to the

reference velocity, as explained above, can be observed due to the

boundary layer effect in the ducted ows. Therefore in the current

research, wake expansion is observed only slightly.

The normalized y-velocity contours can also be observed in

Fig. 10 where the effects of the tower shadow can be observed by

the relatively reduced velocity in the tower wake. Fig. 11

19

a wind turbine in the wind tunnel model. It can be observed that

the wake effects remain noticeable even in the far-wake at

distances as large as y/d 20.

3.3. Turbulence intensity in the wake

The horizontal proles of the time-averaged turbulence intensities (TI) behind the turbine for one upstream and several

normalized downstream locations behind the turbine for

1.75 oz/do1.75 and at the hub centre (x/d0) for the reference wind speed of 7 m/s are presented in Fig. 12. The uniform

wind velocity at the inlet is 7 m/s with TI of 0.2%. The TI for the

case without the wind turbine is also shown as the dotted line in

the plots. It can be observed that there is no increase in the TI for

the case without the wind turbine.

According to Chamorro and Porte-Agel (2009), large increases

in turbulence intensities are observed in the wake of the wind

turbine compared to the relatively low turbulence intensities in

the incoming ow. Similar observations can be made from Fig. 12

where the large increase in TI is observed in the wake just

downstream of the wind turbine. As noted in the gure, the TI

just prior to the wind turbine is comparatively very low, close to

0.5%. However at y/d2, the maximum TI observed is approximately

Fig. 11. Overlapped time-averaged normalized y-velocity contour and y-velocity vector at x/d 0 plane.

20

Fig. 13. (a) Maximum TI in the wake at each section downstream location (b) Components of TI measured on a line between P1 (0, 1d, 0.5d) and P2 (0, 20d, 0.5d).

correspond to the regions of the blade tip and root. TI increases as

the distance in the near-wake is increased and the peak TI of 12.12%,

approximately sixty times larger than the TI at the inlet, is observed

at a distance of y/d3. Further downstream a gradual decrease in TI

is observed till y/d5, where the TI gradually drops down to 9.19%

due to wake instability (Okulov and Sorensen, 2004a). It is important

to point out that this is within the typical range of distances between

adjacent wind turbines in wind farms and, therefore, it should be

taken into account when calculating power losses and wind loads on

the turbines.

The maximum TI at each downstream location is plotted in

Fig. 13(a) where a large decrease in maximum TI can be observed

after y/d5. As explained in the next section, this occurs due to

wake instability and vortex breakdown in the near-wake. Moreover,

an interesting phenomenon is observed regarding the maximum TI

in the far-wake. The reduced TI of approximately 3% at y/d7 shows

a tendency to increase up to 4.5% at y/d20, even though it is

known that turbulence acts as an efcient mixer, leading to recovery

of the decit and a decrease in the overall TI. It is believed that this

phenomenon results from counter-rotating vortex pairs formed by

the wake instability as explained in the next section.

The components of TI measured on a line between P1 (0, 1d,

0.5d) and P2 (0, 20d, 0.5d) (as shown in Fig. 4) is shown in

Fig. 13(b). It can be observed that the largest TI component is in

the axial direction (TIy), the magnitude of which is almost double

in comparison to the other two components (TIx and TIx) at all

downstream locations. The TI in the axial direction is observed to

increase till y/d 1 and then decreases gradually till y/d 5.

On the other hand the other two components of TI are observed

to increase till y/d 5. After this all components reduce drastically

due to the vortex breakdown that occurs due to the wake

instability as explained in the next section.

3.4. Flow structures in the near and far-wake

Wake instability behind wind turbines is considered to be one of

the most important parameters that determine the operation and

performance of tandem wind turbines operating in the wake of

other turbines. It is dened as the degree of susceptibility of wind

turbine wake to upstream and surrounding turbulence and is

considered to be the primary cause of wake meandering (Medici

and Alfredsson, 2008; Sanderse, 2009). Furthermore, wake instability results in the breakdown of large-scale vortices into smaller

vortices/eddies. Therefore, if a tandem wind turbine is located in a

wake with stable vortices (near-wake), it will experience more

where vortex breakdown into a continuous vortex sheet has

occurred (Okulov and Sorensen, 2004b). In order to understand

the basic ow structures in the wake of a wind turbine and to

thoroughly understand wake instability and its relation with the

turbulence intensity in the wake, instantaneous y-vorticity contours

are presented in Fig. 14. Note that the y-vorticity contours range

from 0.5 to 0.5 of y-vorticity magnitude in the wake of the wind

turbine at 8.34 s, corresponding to 10 rotations of the turbine blades.

It can be observed from Fig. 14 that the wake immediately

behind the wind turbine is a system of intense and stable rotating

helical vortices. Several important ow structures can be recognized in the wake immediately behind the turbine. For example, a

ring of high vorticity can be observed before y/d5 in the nearwake, corresponding to the blade tip regions. This vortex structure is termed as the blade tip vortex. Similarly, the vortex

structure in the centre is formed due to the interaction of the

root vortex structure with the hub vortices. It should be noted

that the root vortex structures stemming from the blade root are

not identiable in Fig. 14 due to their close proximity to each

other as compared to the tip vortices. The close proximity,

therefore, results in the spiral structure being destroyed very fast

due to the interaction with the hub vortex.

As the distance behind the turbine is increased, the blade tip

vortex structure in the wake becomes unstable yielding a sinuous

shape at y/d 4 and breaks down completely due to wake

instability at y/d 5. The breakdown results in a large reduction

of the maximum TI that was observed in Fig. 13. As the distance

increases, the collapsed spiral wake spreads and from y/d 10 two

counter-rotating vortex pairs are observed. The phenomenon of

vortex breakdown, as described, can also be observed in the eld

experiment test performed at the Ris test centre in Denmark [2],

as shown in Fig. 15. In the eld experiment, a single blade turbine

was studied to avoid disturbances from the other blades and the

blade tip vortex was identied by smoke exiting the blade at two

radial positions close to the tip. It can be observed in Fig. 15 that

the blade tip vortex becomes unstable at approximately 3 rotor

radii downstream of the turbine. When compared with Fig. 14, it

is possible to see that the breakdown of the blade tip vortex for a

wind turbine in a wind tunnel occurs at a much later downstream

position. The earlier breakdown during the eld experiment could

be explained by the presence of atmospheric turbulence and the

energy exchange between the surrounding air and the wake.

In order to thoroughly investigate the relation between the ow

structures caused by wake instability and the gradual increase of TI

observed in the far-wake, overlapped instantaneous distributions of

21

Fig. 14. Instantaneous y-vorticity at 8.34 s corresponding to 10 rotations of the wind turbine blade at selected axal locations.

direction at the normalized distance of y/d3, and y/d20 are

represented in Fig. 16. In the near-wake at y/d3, strong y-vorticity

is seen near the location of blade tip, in comparison with the farwake at y/d20. This indicates that y-vorticity is more intense than

x and z vortices. The ow structure of two counter-rotating vortex

pairs with unequal strengths is shown through the velocity vectors

at y/d20 in Fig. 16(b). The red vortex of the upper counter-rotating

vortex pair circulates anticlockwise and collides with the opposite

blue vortex resulting in ow acceleration in the tangential direction

at the point of contact. In the process of this collision between the

vortices, the normal Reynolds stress in the x direction (u02 ) at P2 and

in the z direction (w02 ) at P3 relatively increase. This can be observed

in the comparison of the normal Reynolds stresses at P1, P2 and P3

as given in Table 3 through the ratio u02 : v02 : w02 . It is believed that

the gradual increase of TI in the far-wake is attributed to this ow

structure caused by the wake instability. As mentioned by Vermeer

et al. (2003). It is difcult to distinguish both types of wakes that is

near and far-wake. We suggest that the clear boundary between the

near-wake and far-wake should be the starting location of the wake

breakdown and in our investigation, this location is at a distance of

5d downstream from the wind turbine.

3.5. Comparisons with WAsP

The time-averaged wake velocities from the LES are compared

with WAsP (Mortensen et al., 2003) of the European Wind Atlas

(Troen and Petersen, 1989), as shown in Fig. 17. The WAsP model

is one of the oldest and the simplest wake models, still in wide

use, and assumes a linearly expanding wake with a velocity

decit. It is important to note that the WAsP and the LES model

are based on completely different concepts since WAsP cannot

cover the complicated ow structures in the wake of wind

turbines. However, at present, since there is no experimental

information to compare the wake characteristics with; comparison of LES results was made with WAsP in order to gain a deeper

understanding and highlight the deciencies of both models.

The WAsP is a standard method for wind resource predictions

on land as well as offshore. In WAsP model (Jensen, 1983;

Mortensen et al., 2003; Troen and Petersen, 1989) the velocity

decit in the wake is calculated using Eq. (13) and is related to the

freestream velocity magnitude (Vfreestream), thrust coefcient (CT),

rotor diameter (d), wake decay factor (kwake) and downstream

distance from the turbine (y).

"

2 #

p

d

Vwake =Vfreestream 1 1 1C T

d 2 kwake y

13

0.075, whereas for offshore cases a value of 0.05 is recommended.

The velocity decit in the wake calculated using these values and

the experimentally determined thrust coefcient of 0.487 is

compared with the LES in Fig. 17. It can be observed that a good

correlation of the velocity predictions exists for the far-wake

regions after y/d 14 where the LES results can be seen to

converge to the WAsP predictions. However, in the near-wake

region the LES results are more reliable due to accurate predictions of the aerodynamic characteristics of the blade and due to

the limitation that the WAsP wake prediction algorithms are valid

for distances in excess of 3d (Mortensen et al., 2003). The gap in

WAsP predictions and the LES results can be observed to increase

between y/d 5 and y/d 14 and therefore more work is required

for this region.

As stated earlier, Hand and Simms (2001); Simms, 2001

concluded that blockage was of minimal concern for the subject

experiment. However, since wake studies were not the primary

focus of their work, the study conducted to examine the effects of

the blockage only included the wind turbine itself and did not

deal with the wake. Furthermore, since WAsP is suitable for

external ows, a blockage correction calculation needed to be

performed to conrm the effects of the wind tunnel on the wake.

Blockage correction equation suggested by Glauert (1933) and

22

Fig. 16. Overlapped instantaneous distirbution of y-vorticity and veocity magnitude vectors in x and z directions at 8.34 s or after 10 rotations. (a) y/d=3 and (b) y/d=20.

Table 3

Comparison of normal Reynolds stresses in the x, y and z directions at P1(y/d 3),

P2 and P3(y/d 20).

Location

P1

P2

P3

u02

v02

w02

TI (%)

0.0802

0.0201

0.00845

0.291

0.0181

0.0105

0.0905

0.0176

0.0120

0.28:1:0.31

1.11:1:0.97

0.81:1:1.14

9.71

3.37

2.51

Fig. 18. Comparison of wake width predictions using WAsP and LES.

Fig. 17. Comparison of LES results, with and without blockage correction, and the

WAsP wake model with two wake decay factors.

Gould (1969) was used for this purpose and the results are shown

in Fig. 17. Glauert (1933) presented the derivation of the blockage

correction especially applicable to propeller testing which was

subsequently applied by Fitzgerald (2007). Glauerts correction

can be summed-up as an expression for an equivalent free stream

velocity, V by the following relationship:

"

!#1

V

t1 a1

1

14

1

V0

2 1 2 t1 2

In Eq. (14),

t1

a1

rA2

A

C

lower values than the original data at all the distances, but the

curve shape still remains the same. The blockage effect on the

wake velocities, calculated using the Glauerts correction, is

reasonably close to the less than 1% measured by the NREL

(Simms, 2001) and therefore Glauerts correction can be reasonably applied for blockage estimations in this case. The purpose of

performing the blockage corrections is to illustrate that it is of

minimal concern in this simulation and the velocity decit

information provided is accurate. This was, as mentioned earlier,

one of the primary reasons for choosing the NASA Ames

24.4 m 36.6 m wind tunnel for the NREL experiments.

The wake, in WAsP model, is assumed to have a top hat form

and the wake width (dw) is assumed symmetric in the vertical

and lateral directions. The wake width can be calculated using the

following equation.

dw d 2kwake y

15

for the two different wake decay factors are compared with the

wake width obtained from the LES as shown in Fig. 18. From the

LES, it can be observed that the wake width remains approximately constant with the downstream distance compared to the

linearly increasing wake width calculated using the WAsP model.

It can be observed that the wake width from the LES increases in

the near-wake-region until y/d 5, corresponding to the location

of the blade tip vortex breakdown. After the initial increase, a

width then starts to increase again, reaching a maximum at

y/d 20. The maximum wake width observed from LES is approximately 1.44 times larger than the wake width at y/d 1, whereas

it is approximately 3 or 4 time larger for WAsP predictions

depending on the wake decay factor. The primary cause of the

different results from the two models is due to the constraints of

the numerical wind tunnel, which does not allow the wake size to

increase as rapidly in the LES as compared to the WAsP

predictions.

4. Conclusions

Large eddy simulation on the turbulent wake characteristics

behind NREL Phase VI wind turbine was performed to achieve a

better understanding of the wind turbine wake formation and

propagation. The CFD simulation model included a numerical

NASA Ames 24.4 m 36.6 m wind tunnel in which the experiments were performed. The reliability and validity of the analysis

were veried using the published results of the experiment and

an excellent agreement was observed in the comparisons of timeaveraged pressure coefcients and power. It was observed that

LES showed much better results than the steady-state calculations of the two-equation turbulence models of previous

researches. These comparisons provide sufcient evidence that

the predictions of the wake characteristics behind the wind

turbine are accurate, since the aerodynamic characteristics of

the blade are closely related to the wake characteristics. Important observations made as a result of this research are as follows:

(1) A W-shaped velocity prole was observed downstream at

y/d 2 at the normalized distance of 0.5 oz/d o0.5. The

axial velocity was observed to reduce to 0.73 of the freestream velocity at the inlet with a wake width of approximately equal to the rotor diameter. The velocity prole then

became atter as the distance downstream was increased and

the velocity decit was reduced due to momentum recovery.

The wake effects were still quite noticeable even in the farwake at a distance of y/d 20.

(2) TI was observed to increase considerably in the wake of the

wind turbine. In the TI curves, peaks were observed in the

near-wake in the regions corresponding to wakes of blade tip

and root. The maximum TI was observed to increase till

y/d 3, where the peak TI was noted to be 12.12% which is

approximately sixty time larger than the TI at the inlet, after

which a gradual drop was observed till y/d 5. After y/d 5,

due to the collapsed spiral wake breakdown caused by wake

instability, a large decrease in the maximum TI was observed.

TI continued to decrease afterwards till y/d 8 after which it

started to increase slightly due to a system of counterrotating vortices in the far-wake.

(3) The ow structure behind the wind turbine was a system of

intense and stable rotating helical vortices that determined

the dynamics of the far-wake. The vortices in the wake

became unstable yielding a sinuousoid and ultimately broke

down by wake instability at y/d 5. The collapsed spiral wake

spread in all directions in the far-wake, making two counterrotating vortex pairs. Therefore, it was observed that the

gradual increase of TI in the far-wake is a consequence of

this ow structure caused by the wake instability.

(4) It was suggested by the authors that the boundary between

the near- and far-wake should be identied as the starting

location of the wake breakdown and in this work the wake

breakdown occurred at a distance of 5d downstream from the

23

maximum TI for the next downstream station.

(5) Compared with the WAsP predictions, a good agreement was

observed for the axial velocity magnitude in the far-wake

regions, after y/d 14. However, in the comparison of wake

width, a considerable difference due to the wall effect,

resulting from the numerical wind tunnel, was observed.

Therefore, further work is required using un-ducted ow. It

was also observed that the blockage was of minimum concern

when dealing with the velocity decits in the wake.

The information made possible due to this research will be

useful for wind farm designers to improve the overall wind farm

efciency and fatigue lives of the turbines by optimizing the wind

farm layout. In the future, investigations of the turbine wake

generation and propagation will be investigated in un-ducted

ow environment with atmospheric boundary layer velocity and

turbulence intensity proles. The results will be compared with

the results of the present research in order to further study wind

turbine wake aerodynamics.

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to gratefully acknowledge the nancial

support provided by the Centre for Energy Technology (CET)

and the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of

Adelaide as well as the Korea Maritime University in Korea.

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