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Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Energy

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

**Computational ﬂuid dynamics (CFD) mesh independency techniques
**

for a straight blade vertical axis wind turbine

K.M. Almohammadi a, b, *, D.B. Ingham a, L. Ma a, M. Pourkashan a

a

Centre for Computational Fluid Dynamics, Energy Technology and Innovation Initiative (ETTI), University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

b

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Taibah University, Medina, Saudi Arabia

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

**Article history: This paper numerically investigates four methods, namely mesh reﬁnement, General Richardson
**

Received 5 February 2013 Extrapolation (GRE), Grid Convergence Index (GCI), and the ﬁtting method, in order to obtain a mesh

Received in revised form independent solution for a straight blade vertical axis wind turbine (SB-VAWT) power curve using

31 May 2013

computational ﬂuid dynamics (CFD). The solution is produced by employing the 2D Unsteady Navier

Accepted 2 June 2013

Available online 17 July 2013

eStokes equations (URANS) with two turbulence models (Shear Stress Transport (SST) Transitional and

ReNormalized Groups (RNG) k 3 models). The commonly applied mesh reﬁnement is found to be

computationally expensive and not often practical even for a full 2D model of the turbine. The mesh

Keywords:

Straight blade vertical axis wind turbine

independent power coefﬁcient produced using the General Richardson Extrapolation method is found to

(SB-VAWT) be encouraging. However, the Grid Convergence Index may not be applicable in mesh independency

Darrieus turbines tests due to the oscillatory behaviour of the convergence for the turbine power coefﬁcient. As an

Grid independency alternative, the ﬁtting method shows a good potential for the predicting of the mesh independent power

Computational ﬂuid dynamics modelling coefﬁcient without the necessity to consider a massive number of meshes.

Richardson Extrapolation Ó 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

**1. Introduction regions continuously changes direction and this makes the vertical
**

axis wind turbines a good candidate for harnessing this kind of

Over the past ten years or so there has been an increasingly multidirectional ﬂow of the wind. However, the wind ﬂow speed in

more rapid advances in the applications of the computational ﬂuid urban regions is relatively low and also extremely turbulent, and

dynamics for vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs). This has been this adds an extra complexity to the ﬂuid ﬂow structure [3].

mainly driven by the development of the computational power and The ﬂow around one blade at low speed in the presence of dy-

the complexity of the ﬂow around the turbine which is modelled namic stall has been extensively studied by many researchers using

using this technique. The computational ﬂuid dynamics is based on computational ﬂuid dynamics in both the wind turbine and heli-

the concept of Reynolds averaging of the unsteady NaviereStokes copter community and the general features of the ﬂow has been

equations, widely known as (URANS), which are considered by identiﬁed. As the angle of attack increases, an increased adverse

Leishman [1,2] to be the most appropriate method for analyzing pressure is developed over the airfoil surface, thus causing the ﬂow

nonlinear viscous ﬂows providing that a suitable turbulence model separation and reattachment, and this initiates the dynamic stall

is employed. In term of VAWT, this nonlinearity is enhanced by the [4e8] which results in an overshoot in the lift coefﬁcient followed

presence of the dynamic stall phenomenon due to the rapid change by a sudden loss in the lift due to vortex shedding. The failure to

in the angle of attack of the blades during turbine operation. capture the dynamic stall accurately would result in a wrong pre-

Vertical axis wind turbines are known to potentially perform diction of the turbine overall performance. Despite the extensive

better in urban regions when compared to horizontal axis wind experimental [9e17] and modelling [6e8,18] of the dynamic stall,

turbines due to the fact that vertical axis wind turbines do not the dynamic stall is not fully understood [19].

require alignment to the oncoming ﬂow. The wind ﬂow in urban Another ﬂow feature that signiﬁcantly affects the turbine per-

formance is the laminar transition bubbles which mainly occur due

to the laminar-turbulence transition. These bubbles are formed

* Centre for Computational Fluid Dynamics, Energy Technology and Innovation near the airfoil surface in the micro scale and move towards the

Initiative (ETTI), University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK. Tel.: þ44 (0)113 3435113;

fax: þ44 113 246 7310.

leading edge of the airfoil where they combine and become more

E-mail addresses: ml07kma@leeds.ac.uk, Doctorkmsa@gmail.com apparent [20e25]. The laminar separation bubbles may signiﬁ-

(K.M. Almohammadi). cantly affect the performance prediction if not accurately modelled

**0360-5442/$ e see front matter Ó 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
**

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.energy.2013.06.012

484 K.M. Almohammadi et al. / Energy 58 (2013) 483e493

and they could be predicted by employing transitional turbulence vertical axis wind turbine since it has shown encouraging results

models such as the Transition SST (Shear Stress Transport) model compared to the experimental data in several different applica-

[26,27] and the n2 f model. tions [26,27,34].

Capturing the ﬂow features of the wind turbine requires a The mesh independent solution is produced by eliminating the

comprehensive understanding of the physics involved in VAWTs in effect of several factors, such as rounding, iterative, and dis-

order to create a sufﬁcient mesh topology. Achieving a mesh in- cretization errors, and therefore reﬁning the mesh is considered to

dependent solution is an essential step in analyzing the results be a remedy for the reduction of these errors by many researchers.

obtained using computational ﬂuid dynamic techniques. However, It is important to highlight that the agreement of the predicted

there is no speciﬁc method in the literature on how to achieve a power coefﬁcient with the experimental results does not neces-

mesh independent solution for VATWs. sarily mean that the solution is mesh independent. Achieving a

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the mesh indepen- mesh independent solution must be produced in the absence of

dence of the predicted power coefﬁcient of a straight blade vertical experimental results. Once the solution is mesh independent then

axis wind turbine (SB-VAWT) by employing four methods, namely it can be compared against the experimental data. However, the

grid reﬁnement, General Richardson Extrapolation (GRE), Grid complexity of the ﬂow regimes and the computational power re-

Convergence Index (GCI), and the ﬁtting method. The analyses are quirements for analyzing the straight axis wind turbine lead re-

validated by the available experimental data from the literature searchers to simplify the analysis of the vertical axis wind turbines

[28,29]. Applying these methods may make the results obtained by by studying one airfoil at different static angles of attack or by

applying the computational ﬂuid dynamics reliable before per- considering an oscillating airfoil for the purpose of understanding

forming experimental investigations, and this is extremely impor- the ﬂow complexity related to this kind of turbines. These as-

tant for the design and optimization of the turbine. sumptions could result in misleading conclusions. For example,

Worasinchai [35] examined four different 2D airfoils at angles of

2. Mesh independent solution for the vertical axis wind incident to the oncoming ﬂow from 0 to 360 in increments of 2

turbine in order to apply the results to wind turbines. He employed two

meshes, using approximately 27,000 cells and 73,000 cells and his

2.1. Single airfoil analysis did not capture the laminar separation bubble at high

angels of attack on the suction side of the blade. This could be due

The presence of complex ﬂow regimes in the vicinity of a to the non-appropriate turbulence model applied or not employ-

straight blade of the vertical axis wind turbines and the errors ing a sufﬁcient number of points on the blade surface. However,

generated from the computational techniques makes the modelling there is no explanation in his work on whether the solution is

of the turbine a challenging task, especially at low tip speed ratios mesh independent or not but the mesh independent solution

(TSR < 5) which are typically employed in urban regions [16] and problem has been recognized by many researches. Castelli [36]

throughout this paper the term TSR refers to the ratio of the rota- employed four mesh topologies with different resolutions and as

tional speed of the blade to the undisturbed wind. However, the a result he created 40 meshes in order to examine their effect on

computational power and the accuracy of the solution play an the lift and drag coefﬁcients, and this requires enormous compu-

important role in the decision of the selection of the computational tational power if the same process is to be applied for the three

technique, including the suitable turbulence model. blade analysis of wind turbines. In another study, Spentzos [37]

The solution produced using computational ﬂuid dynamics is has compared 2D and 3D dynamic stall analysis for a wind tur-

affected by the physical modelling of the problem and the bine blade. He performed a sensitivity analysis on three meshes for

computational method applied to describe the ﬂow. The unsteady the 3D case, namely 420,000, 1,700,000 and 3,100,000 cells. It is

Reynolds averaging of the NaviereStokes (URANS), with an clear from his work that in order to obtain a mesh independent

appropriate a turbulence model, is devoted to the capture of the solution from the reﬁned meshes, then massive computational

physics of the problem. However, there is no universal turbulence power is required if the same procedure to be applied for the three

model that may be applied for all the computations, and this has blade wind turbine. In cases such as the one studied by Gleize [38],

resulted in different turbulence models which are based on a mesh independent solution may not be achieved when

different physical modelling assumptions. Due to the fact that the employing the ﬁnest mesh for which he could obtain a converged

transition from laminar to turbulent ﬂow is present in the straight solution. In his study, he started the 2D analysis for one ﬁxed airfoil

blade vertical axis wind turbine, the most suitable candidate is the with 33,153 points and reﬁned the mesh to 3,456,105 points and he

SST Transitional model. This model is based on the Boussinesq concluded that the mesh independent solution has not yet been

assumption which relates the Reynolds stresses to the mean of the achieved.

velocity gradients [30,31]. This means that the turbulent eddy On oscillating airfoils, Yu [39] has employed a ﬁxed mesh size

viscosity is isotropic and this approximation results in an error of 70,000 elements with 400 points on the airfoil surface, which is

which is commonly ignored [32,33] but it requires a proper quan- relatively low for accurately resolving the dynamic stall which will

tiﬁcation in wind turbine analysis in order to decide whether this be explained in more detail in Section 2.2. He did not explain

error is relatively small. whether the results obtained are mesh independent. However,

The computational method that is widely employed for solving Wang [7] has employed three meshes for the URANS computa-

the unsteady Reynolds averaging NaviereStokes equations in tions with 80,000, 180,000, 605,000 cells and he concluded that

the computational ﬂuid dynamics is the ﬁnite volume method the 605,000 cell results agreed well with the experimental data of

with the central-difference method [30,31]. This method has Lee [40]. He may have agreement with the experimental data but

proven its superiority in many applications providing that the it is not necessarily a mesh independent solution. Another

mesh independent solution is achieved. The mesh independent important investigation of obtaining mesh independent solution

solution is entirely dependent on the mesh employed to capture for the dynamic stall analysis by employing an oscillating airfoil

the ﬂuid ﬂow and also the physical model that is capable to has been performed by Richter [41]. Three meshes are created

describe the physics related to the problem studied. In this paper, with a systematic grid reﬁnement in all directions for the base

it is assumed that the transitional model, the SST Transition mesh and this resulted in a ﬁne mesh size of about 400,000 points

model, is capable of capturing the underlying ﬂow physics of the on which a mesh independent solution is achieved. However, it

K.M. Almohammadi et al. / Energy 58 (2013) 483e493 485

should be noted that this is for only one airfoil and not for a wind explicitly how many cells are employed on the airfoil surface but his

turbine. mesh size of 130,000 cells suggests that the number of cells near

From the above studies, it is clear that mesh independent so- airfoil surface is ﬁxed.

lutions for only one 2D airfoil requires a mesh size of at least about In the cases where a mesh independent solution is satisfactorily

400,000 cells. Therefore, analyzing a three blade wind turbine will obtained for the full 2D model of the wind turbine, it is found that

require a massive number of meshes and therefore a mesh inde- the performance of the turbine is over predicted by up to 75e95%

pendent solution will be computationally very expensive if we are when compared to the experimental data [45,47,49]. Also, the peak

to follow the same procedures of mesh reﬁnement. A possible so- in the power coefﬁcient of the turbine is shifted by about 0.5e1.5 to

lution is to use super computers, or very high performance servers a higher tip speed ratio. A similar behaviour has been found

to perform such calculations. experimentally by Kooiman [29,47] when the struts are aero-

dynamically improved. In the full 2D model of the turbine, the

2.2. Full turbine model (three blades) struts are not present and as a result a higher peak of the turbine

power coefﬁcient with a shifted tip speed ratio is expected if the

In the previous section, it is clear that the predicted power co- modelling is performed accurately and the mesh independent so-

efﬁcient is sensitive to the mesh size and a mesh independent so- lution is obtained. Although extensive research has been performed

lution is not a straight forward task. In some cases, the mesh on obtaining reasonable results compared to experimental data, so

independent study for one airfoil fails to obtain satisfactory far, no single study exists in the literature which adequately covers

convergence. This is due to the complexity of the ﬂow and the a mesh independency study.

sensitivity of the predicted power coefﬁcient, and therefore the

mesh independency study is extremely important in order to 3. Computational scheme

explain the results obtained by employing computational ﬂuid

dynamics. However, the modelling of the full turbine model with 3.1. Computational domain and grid

three blades is more difﬁcult than that of one blade and the mesh

sensitivity may not be practical, especially if the computational All the studies reviewed so far have focused on obtaining results

ﬂuid dynamics is going to be employed as a design tool. The which are in reasonable agreement with the experimental data.

computational power is also another limiting factor for obtaining a However, the results obtained in some of the cases found in the

mesh independent solution. literature may not necessarily be mesh independent. Therefore, it is

Kaminsky [42] created a full 3D model of a vertical axis wind extremely important to apply different techniques in order to obtain

turbine and the mesh is reﬁned up to 6,000,000 cells and yet a a mesh independent solution in the wind turbine community. For

mesh independent solution is not achieved. This indicates that at this reason, a full 2D turbine model is created on the basis of the

some ﬂow conditions, or for some geometrical reasons, a mesh experimental set up by Bravo et al. [28,29]. The turbine consists of

independent solution is a very challenging task. However, Castelli three straight blades of NACA0015 airfoils with 0.4 m as chord length

[43] managed to achieve a mesh independent solution for his full and a curved trailing edge of 0.1c (0.04 m) equally spaced in a radius

model with 5,000,000 cells, whereas Untaroiu [44] obtained a of 3.125c by 120 where the blade heights are 7.5c.

mesh independent solution with 7,900,000 cells. Also, the grid The 2D full model of the turbine is created for use in the com-

reﬁnement study performed by Li [45] resulted in 5,267,600 cells in putations by assembling a circular rotating region in a rectangular

order to obtain a mesh independent solution. Moreover, Rossetti stationary region where the rectangular stationary region is 87.5c

[46] obtained a mesh independent solution with a mesh size of in length and 50c in width, and the circular rotating region has a

8,870,576 nodes. Therefore, it is clear that the mesh independency diameter of 17.5c. Different domain dimensions and circular re-

test is computationally expensive and may not be practical when gions have been investigated by McLaren [56] and this domain size

performing the mesh reﬁnement technique. If the mesh is relatively was found to be sufﬁciently far from the turbine that it does not

coarse for a full 3D model, namely 1,300,000 cells, as in the case of affect the computations, and therefore this domain has been

Howell [47], the prediction error was about 20% different from the employed for all the computations presented in this paper. For the

experimental data. Even though these studies claim that a mesh rectangular stationary domain, the upstream side of the rectangle is

independent solution has been achieved, the reﬁnement process is set as an inlet boundary condition whereas the downstream side is

not clearly explained. set as a pressure outlet boundary with two wall boundaries to both

Because of these difﬁculties, many researchers have focused on the sides of the rectangle. The boundary where the rectangular

analyzing the full 2D model of a vertical axis wind turbine and stationary region is connected to the circular rotating region is set

achieving mesh independent solution before considering the full as an interface boundary condition in order to employ the sliding

3D model. McLaren [48] has produced a mesh independent solu- mesh technique (Fig. 1).

tion with a 989 elements on each airfoil and a mesh size of 485,000

nodes. However, a systematic reﬁnement of the mesh from 600,000

to 1,000,000 has been performed by Castelli [49] until a mesh in-

dependent solution is obtained. It is important to highlight that

coarse meshes, of the order of 100,000e300,000, have been

employed by some researchers [50e53]. In these cases, a non-

transitional model has been applied and/or the number of the

cells on the airfoil surface is ﬁxed. This has resulted in a smooth

solution but not necessarily a mesh independent solution and a

further mesh independency analysis is required. A more detailed

mesh independency study has been performed by Maître [54]

where he has systematically employed seven meshes. However,

six of the meshes have exactly the same number of cells on the

blades, and this makes his mesh independent solution not to be Fig. 1. 2D schematic of the computational domain employed for the investigated

necessarily accurate. Similarly, Mohamed [55] did not mention straight blade vertical axis wind turbine.

486 K.M. Almohammadi et al. / Energy 58 (2013) 483e493

Based on the recommendations of Almohammadi [5], quadri- iterative converged solution are performed using the same mesh.

lateral cells are employed for creating the computational domain When the mesh converged solution does not change as the mesh is

where the near blade region is created as a structured mesh and an reﬁned then the mesh independent solution is considered to be

unstructured mesh is used in the regions far from the blade. For a achieved, and this is discussed in more detail in Section 4.

high quality structured mesh near the blade, it is essential to esti- The case investigated in this paper is run at different tip speed

mate the boundary layer thickness and the distance of the ﬁrst ratios ranging from 0.5 to 5 and the turbulence intensity level and

node from the blade surface that ensures a value of (the relative the turbulent length scale are ﬁxed in all the computations to be

distance of the ﬁrst node from the surface of the airfoil) of about 1. 0.5% and 0.028 m (0.07c), respectively, whereas the residuals are

Based on the ﬂow Reynolds number (Rec ¼ rcUN/m ¼ 2.83 105) set to 105 for all the variables which has been speciﬁed after

with an upwind velocity of 10 m/s and a chord length of 0.4 m it is consecutive investigations that show that this value is sufﬁciently

estimated that the boundary layer thickness is about 0.752 mm. small.

The actual boundary layer thickness is less than this value since this The mesh is prepared to start the computations by employing a

is based on the upwind wind velocity whereas the local velocity is segregated pressure based solver, known as the SIMPLE algorithm

relatively higher than 10 m/s, and this reduces the boundary layer [62,63], where the pressure ﬁeld is corrected by enforcing the mass

thickness. On this base, seven meshes have been created to perform conservation in the numerical scheme resulted from the pressure

the mesh independency studies using the SST Transitional model and velocity coupling [64]. The least squares method has been

and ﬁve meshes have been created to perform the mesh indepen- employed for calculating the gradients of the transport quantities

dency studies using the ReNormalized Groups (RNG) k 3 model by on the faces of the cell boundaries. All the computations were

employing the grid reﬁnement, General Richardson Extrapolation started by employing a ﬁrst-order upwind scheme for the spatial

(GRE), Grid Convergence Index (GCI), and the ﬁtting method. and temporal discretization in order to generate a smooth solution,

and then the spatial discretization was set to the second-order

3.2. Turbulence model and simulation accurate upwind scheme. The time step was set to be

8.975979 105 s in order to ensure an accurate temporal dis-

The accuracy and the computational power required to be used cretization and small Courant number [5]. At each time step, the

to analyze the vertical axis wind turbine modelling are highly torque produced by all three blades was computed, and then this

dependent on the selection of the turbulence model. The turbu- value was averaged with the other values produced at the previous

lence models available are mainly based on averaging the transport time steps for one revolution, see Fig. 2.

quantities in the NaviereStokes equations. In a vertical axis wind If the averaged torque after one full rotation does not differ in

turbine, the transition of the ﬂow from laminar to turbulent near each time step by more than 2%, then the solution is considered to

the blade, the ﬂow separation and the reattachment, and the be a mesh converged solution, i.e.

laminar separation bubbles occurrence on the airfoil surface are all

very important factors that need to be considered in the selection of Avraged torque at each time step

Converegnce ¼ 0:02

the most appropriate turbulence model. The family of k 3 and Avreaged torque per one revolution

k u models do not account for the transition of the ﬂow in their (1)

original forms. Durban [57] extended the k 3 model and proposed

the n2 f model which is a four equation model that is known to This is a sensitive measure to the mesh convergence since it

perform well in separated and transitional ﬂows [58,59]. On the requires two full rotations with no change in the torque in order to

other hand, Menter and Langtry [26,27,60] extended the SST k u decide the mesh convergence. The commercial software applied in

model by incorporating two additional equations, namely the all the computations and the mesh generation are ANSYS FLUENT

intermittency and the momentum thickness, and developed the and GAMBIT, respectively. It is important to highlight that in this

SST Transition model which is also a four equation model. Due to investigation it has been noticed that a mesh size of half million

the computational effort required by the n2 f model, the SST cells requires a computational time of about 24 h on a server of 20

Transitional model is employed for all the computations presented processors in order to achieve the convergence.

in this paper. However, understanding the convergence indepen-

dency study for non-transitional models is attractive due to the 4. Mesh independency test

signiﬁcantly lower requirements in the time of computations and

the computational effort which may be half compared to the Seven different meshes, as illustrated in Table 1, are created in

transitional models. Therefore, the RNG k 3 model, which was order to examine the mesh independent solution for the studied

developed by Yakhot [61], is also employed in the computations SB-VAWT by employing the SST Transitional model based on pre-

presented in this paper due to its sensitivity to the rapid changes in dicting the power coefﬁcient which is calculated from the obtained

the turbulence quantities that occurs in such ﬂows. This will pro- averaged torque. The meshes are created in the recommended

vide an insight into the mesh independency study when the near tolerance for applying this turbulence model in order to predict the

blade region is approximated by employing the standard wall power coefﬁcient and to estimate the exact power coefﬁcient using

function and in the modelling the ﬂow to the blade surface. four different methods, namely grid systematic reﬁnement, General

Richardson Extrapolation (GRE) method, Grid Convergence Index

3.3. Mesh convergence solution (GCI), and the curve ﬁtting method. To explain the procedures

employed for obtaining a mesh independent solution, the analysis

The ﬁrst step towards obtaining a mesh independent solution is in Sections 4.1e4.3 are shown at a tip speed ratio of 1.75 and the

to achieve a mesh converged solution and an iterative converged same procedure could be applied for tip speed ratios 0.5e5. For

solution. The former could be obtained when the monitoring var- Section 4.4, the mesh independency study is shown for the tip

iables, in this case the average torque produced by the three blades speed ratios in the range 0.5e5. For the meshes M6, M5, and M4,

of the turbine, stabilizes as the turbine continues rotating. The the structured mesh near the blade is doubled as the mesh is

latter is obtained when the set tolerance in the residuals of the reﬁned and the unstructured mesh size is maintained. Doubling the

computed variables are reached during the computations. It is number of mesh points further is not computationally practical

important to highlight that the mesh converged solution and the even though it may appear to be necessary, therefore M3 has been

K.M. Almohammadi et al. / Energy 58 (2013) 483e493 487

Table 2

Grid size and predicted power coefﬁcient for the RNG k 3 model at TSR 1.75.

**Mesh Nodes on Mesh size Estimated power
**

airfoil surface (cells) coefﬁcient (cpestimated)

**M11 600 338,394 0.427
**

M22 600 222,155 0.392

M33 600 85,000 0.439

M44 600 48,961 0.444

M55 600 23,806 0.471

**order to examine whether the oscillatory behaviour is captured by
**

employing the investigated techniques, namely the mesh reﬁne-

ment and the ﬁtting method.

4.1. Grid resolution

**Increasing the grid resolution based on the prior knowledge of
**

the physics of the problem is the most common procedure in

searching for a mesh independent solution. This approach could be

expensive when considering the case of a full model of SB-VAWTs.

Therefore, analyzing a 2D case is vital in order to estimate the

computational effort required to obtain a mesh independent

solution.

In the case of SB-VAWTs, the region near the airfoils exposed to

the complex ﬂow features, namely separation and dynamic stall,

and therefore increasing the mesh resolution in the regions near

the airfoil is a clear option. The mesh is reﬁned in the grids M7 to

M2 and the predicted power coefﬁcient is increased from 0.218 to

0.371, as seen in Fig. 3(a).

**Fig. 2. Mesh convergence for M3 (see Table 1) at a tip speed ratio 1.75 using the SST
**

Transitional model (the time step is normalized to the maximum time of

computations).

**created with 5000 nodes on the airfoil surface. To apply the Grid
**

Convergence Index, M2 and M1 are systematically reﬁned from M5

by splitting the quadrilateral cells in the whole domain into four

cells, namely M2 ¼ 4 M5 and M1 ¼ 8 M5. Further, M7 has been

created so that there is about 10% of M2 and this, namely 50,000e

500,000 cells, is employed in the mesh ﬁtting method.

The meshes in Table 1 are created to apply the SST Transitional

model. Therefore, to apply the RNG k 3 model, ﬁve meshes have

been created and the near wall mesh is carefully generated in order

to apply the standard wall function approach which signiﬁcantly

reduces the mesh size. These meshes are shown in Table 2. On the

airfoil surface, 600 nodes have been employed and maintained in

Table 1

Grid size and predicted power coefﬁcient for the SST Transitional model at TSR 1.75.

**Mesh Nodes on airfoil Mesh Estimated power
**

surface size (cells) coefﬁcient (cpestimated)

**M1 7552 2,168,096 0.340
**

M2 3776 542,024 0.370

M3 5000 495,926 0.361

M4 3776 235,388 0.321

M5 1888 135,506 0.276

Fig. 3. The power coefﬁcient at tip speed ratio 1.75 for the SST Transitional model for

M6 944 84,843 0.267

(a) all investigated meshes normalized to M1, (b) systematic reﬁnement normalized to

M7 400 52,870 0.218

M1, (c) and for the RNG k 3 model for all investigated meshes normalized to M11.

488 K.M. Almohammadi et al. / Energy 58 (2013) 483e493

**It is important to note that the mesh in the regions away from R* > 1 Monotonic divergence
**

the airfoils is not changed in the meshes M7 to M3. Therefore extra 1 > R* > 0 Monotonic convergence

caution should be taken into account when applying this approach 0 > R* > 1 Oscillatory convergence

since the results obtained may not be reliable. M4 and M2 have R* < 1 Oscillatory divergence

exactly the same near wall cell distribution and the power coefﬁ-

In order to apply the General Richardson Extrapolation method,

cient is slightly affected by the change in the mesh in the region

the apparent convergence condition has to be monotonic conver-

away from the airfoil, and this accounts for only about 10% to 15%

gence. All the conﬁgurations that satisfy this condition of the

difference in the predicted power coefﬁcient. It is clear from Fig. 3

apparent convergence are shown in Table 3. Also, all the negative

that the mesh independency is not satisfactorily achieved by

orders of accuracy obtained are excluded from the calculations

employing the traditional mesh reﬁnement approaches, whether

since these do not compare with the formal order of accuracy.

this reﬁnement is performed in the regions where the ﬂow is

It is clear from Table 3 that the estimation of the power coefﬁ-

signiﬁcantly complex, namely near the blades, or by the use of

cient that has an order of accuracy close to, or higher than, 2 are

systematic reﬁnement. The results shows that the power coefﬁcient

0.342 and 0.291. However, the order of the accuracy near 8 is not

may not be always smooth and may in addition be oscillating and

desirable, as will be discussed in more details in Section 5.

very computationally expensive. This oscillation in the power co-

The estimated power coefﬁcients shown in Table 4 are relatively

efﬁcient is also present when the RNG k 3 model is employed,

similar and they are all higher than the estimated power coefﬁcient

seen Fig. 3(c). It is possible that if the predicted power coefﬁcient is

when employing the SST Transitional model and this is mainly due

not near the mesh independent power coefﬁcient, the predicted

to the application of the standard wall function and the low number

power coefﬁcient may, misleadingly, appear to be converging

of points employed on the blade surface. By not including the near

smoothly and only a systematic reﬁnement of the mesh could

wall regions when employing the RNG k 3 model, part of the

detect this oscillation as seen in Fig. 3(b).

physics is not estimated and not modelled, and this causes the RNG

k 3 model over estimates the power coefﬁcient.

4.2. General Richardson Extrapolation method

4.3. Grid Convergence Index (GCI)

The basic principle of the Richardson method relies on using the

convergence and reﬁnement rate to estimate the exact solution

The concept of the Grid Convergence Index (GCI) is derived from

from the expansion series for the errors [65e67]. Implementing the

the General Richardson Extrapolation method and it was proposed

methods results in the following estimation:

by Roache in 1994 [70]. It relates the error produced from sys-

cp1 cp2 tematic grid reﬁnements or coarsening to the error produced when

cpexact ¼ cp1 þ þ H:O:T (2) doubling or halving the grid size (r ¼ 2) using the second-order

rp 1

method (p ¼ 2). Meshes M5, M2, and M1 are systematically

This method requires at least three meshes in order to calculate reﬁned by doubling the grid size wherer12 ¼ r23 ¼ 2. However, the

the order of accuracy (p), see equation (3), and two meshes to es- convergence condition is calculated and found to be 0.319, and as

timate the exact power coefﬁcient where the subscription 1 refers a result the convergence condition is that of oscillatory conver-

to the solution obtained on the ﬁne mesh and 3 to the solution gence. This is possibly due to the unsteadiness, the nonlinearity,

obtained on the coarse mesh in order to obtain a reasonable esti- and the complexity of the ﬂow around the turbine blades. There-

mate of the power coefﬁcient of the turbine. If mesh reﬁnement is fore, an oscillatory convergence method, namely the ﬁtting

not systematic, namelyr12 s r23 (note: r12 refers the reﬁnement method, is considered for predicting the mesh independent solu-

ratio from between mesh 2 and 1 and r23 refers to the reﬁnement tion and this method is discussed in more details in Section 4.4.

ratio between mesh 3 and 2), therefore the order of accuracy (p)

will be governed by the transcendental expression: 4.4. Fitting method

n cp o

p p

ln r12old 1 cp 3

cp cp

2

þ r12old The analyses presented in Sections 4.2 and 4.3 are based on the

pnew ¼

2 1

(3) General Richardson Extrapolation method which is only valid when

lnðr12 r32 Þ

the convergence condition is monotonic. When the solution of the

and equation (3) is iteratively solved [68]. predicted power coefﬁcient is oscillating then this condition is

Since the computation for predicting the turbine power coefﬁ- violated and the assumptions on which the Richardson method is

cient is second-order, then the formal order of accuracy of the based is no longer valid for estimating the error in the solution. Due

truncation error of the results produced by the grid should be two to the complexity of the ﬂow, and the presence of dynamic stall, the

(i.e. p ¼ 2). Solution independency is judged by comparing the solution may exhibit an oscillation. The convergence condition

calculated and the formal order of the accuracy of the truncation

error. Roy [69] suggested that the calculated order of the accuracy

has to be higher than the formal order of the accuracy in order to Table 3

estimate the true numerical solution, and in our case this is the Estimated power coefﬁcient using the General Richardson Extrapolation method for

power coefﬁcient, from the ﬁne mesh. the SST Transitional model.

However, before performing the mesh independency study us- Meshes Calculated R* Estimated power

ing this method, it is necessary to calculate the apparent conver- order of coefﬁcient (cpestimated)

gence condition [68,70,71] as given by the equation: accuracy (p)

M7 M6 M5 7.15 0.184 0.291

cp2 cp1

R* ¼ (4) M7 M4 M3 0.442 0.388 0.397

cp3 cp2 M7 M4 M2 0.274 0.476 0.408

M7 M4 M1 2.41 0.184 0.342

M5 M4 M3 1.3 0.889 0.397

and it is based on the R* value of the convergence conditions which M5 M4 M1 4.38 0.422 0.342

is deﬁned as follows:

K.M. Almohammadi et al. / Energy 58 (2013) 483e493 489

**Table 4 (p ¼ 2). It is important to note that as the tip speed ratio increases,
**

Estimated power coefﬁcient using the General Richardson Extrapolation method for the turbine rotates faster and this increases the tip vortex and the

the RNG k 3 model.

3D effects on the ﬂow and therefore as a result the 2D full model

Meshes Calculated order R* Estimated power produces more error in the predicted power coefﬁcient when

of accuracy (p) coefﬁcient (cpestimated) compared to the results obtained from the full 3D model and the

M55 M44 M33 4.33 0.185 0.432 experiment data.

M55 M44 M11 2.48 0.63 0.424

M55 M33 M11 1.61 0.375 0.423

5. Discussion

**The rotation of the turbine, nonlinearity of the dynamic stall,
**

tested in Sections 4.2 and 4.3 show that in some cases the solution

and the unsteadiness of the ﬂow supports the possibility that the

condition has an oscillatory convergence. In the ﬁtting method, the

ﬂow may exhibit an oscillatory behaviour. The computational po-

Taylor expansion of the discretization error is employed as follows:

wer requirement makes obtaining a mesh independent solution for

the power coefﬁcient difﬁcult using the traditional mesh reﬁne-

cpmesh ¼ cpexact þ ap hp þ apþ1 hpþ1 þ H:O:T (5) ment techniques. The oscillatory behaviour of the power coefﬁcient

appears when the solution is close to the mesh independent power

Two numerical schemes are extracted from equation (5) and

coefﬁcient. This may explain the massive mesh requirement in

employed in the ﬁtting of the predicted power coefﬁcient, namely

order to obtain a satisfactory converged solution for the power

p ¼ 1 and p ¼ 2 for the ﬁrst-order, equation (6), and the second-

coefﬁcient as discussed in Section 2. However, the systematic mesh

order accurate scheme, equation (7), respectively, namely

reﬁnement shows clear evidence of this oscillation in the power

coefﬁcient as seen in Fig. 3(b).

cpmesh ¼ cpexact þ ah þ a2 h2 (6) If the meshes employed for computing the power coefﬁcient are

relatively coarse and the predicted power coefﬁcient is not near the

true numerical solution, then the solution oscillates towards the

cpmesh ¼ cpexact þ a2 h2 (7)

true numerical solution. In this case, the convergence condition is

First, the power coefﬁcient is evaluated at h where h is [1/mesh evaluated in order to employ the General Richardson Extrapolation

size]2, and then plotted in order to ﬁt a curve that represents the method, as explained in Section 4.2. The values of the predicted

solution convergence. The intersection of the ﬁtted curve of the power coefﬁcient that satisfy 1 < R* < 0 and p > 0 are only consid-

predicted power coefﬁcients is considered to be the exact numer- ered to be valid for predicting the power coefﬁcient. It is stated by

ical power coefﬁcient, and therefore this value is considered to be Roy [69] that the extracted order of accuracy is p þ 1 order accurate,

the mesh independent power coefﬁcient. and therefore the extracted order of accuracy higher than the

It is observed in Fig. 4 that both schemes tend to predict similar formal order of accuracy and close to p þ 1 is desirable. From

numerical power coefﬁcients. The trend of the convergence is Table 3, it can be seen that the predicted power coefﬁcient obtained

similar for the SST Transitional model (1st and 2nd order upwind by employing the SST Transitional model is 0.342 at p values of 2.41

schemes) and the RNG k 3 model. It is of interest to note that the and 4.38 which compares well with the experimental value of 0.34.

nonlinearity of the convergence is not captured when the RNG k 3 An order of the accuracy higher than eight is not permissible

model is employed. This is mainly because of the nonlinearity that [72,73], and therefore the order of accuracy of 7.15 is not reliable. On

is developed in the boundary layer which is approximated here the other hand, the power coefﬁcient predictions using the RNG

using the standard wall function. For the SST Transitional model, k 3 model are very close to each other with a predicted value of

the ﬁrst-order accurate scheme captures the nonlinearity since it about 0.425 with p values of 1.61, 2.48, and 4.33. This value is

solves the turbulence quantities to the blade wall. However, the relatively high compared to the experimental data and the main

standard error (SE) in the second-order scheme is less than the reason for this is that the approximation of the ﬂow near the blade

standard error in the ﬁrst-order scheme, and therefore it is using the standard wall function and the low number of cells on the

assumed to be reliable for approximating the ﬁtting of the power airfoil surface. The use of a low number of cells is deliberate in order

coefﬁcient because the formal order of the accuracy is second-order to examine the assumption of the oscillatory power coefﬁcient on

Fig. 4. Curve ﬁtting for the (a) ﬁrst-order, and (b) second-order accurate schemes at TSR 1.75 for the 1st and 2nd order upwind schemes for the SST Transitional and the RNG k 3

models.

490 K.M. Almohammadi et al. / Energy 58 (2013) 483e493

the coarse meshes. Applying the standard wall function method Transitional model (17.1% compared to the experimental data) are

causes the loss of the near wall ﬂow details, such as the develop- closer by 15% to the experimental value of the power coefﬁcients

ment of the laminar separation bubbles and this is mainly the produced when employing the RNG k 3 model (3.1% compared to

reason for the over estimation of the power coefﬁcient. The sys- the experimental data). At this tip speed ratio, namely 1.75, the 3D

tematic reﬁnement of M5, M2, and M1 are speciﬁcally created in effect and the strut aerodynamic losses are expected to be low, and

order to employ the grid convergence method (GCI) which esti- therefore the results produced by employing the SST Transitional

mates the numerical bands with respect to the ﬁne mesh with a model is signiﬁcantly better compared to the RNG k 3 model.

conﬁdence interval value of about 95%. However, the convergence The ﬁrst-order and second-order ﬁtting of the power coefﬁcient

condition makes this method inapplicable in this particular case is performed on four meshes for the tip speed ratios investigated as

and also conﬁrms the oscillatory behaviour in the power shown in Fig. 5. It is clear that there is an oscillation in the power

coefﬁcient. coefﬁcient and there is a trend towards a mesh independent so-

The ﬁtting method employed in Section 4.4 shows a great po- lution, and this could possibly be the reason behind the massive

tential to be employed rather than the traditional mesh reﬁnement mesh requirement for obtaining a mesh independent solution.

methods. The computational power required for meshes of the However, by considering the ﬁtting method, this difﬁculty is

order of 500,000 cells is not expensive and employing the ﬁtting elevated and a satisfactory power coefﬁcient could be obtained by

method saves the computational cost required when using much employing the ﬁtting method on four different resolution meshes.

ﬁner meshes. The results obtained using the 1st order and 2nd order The uncertainty in the ﬁtting method is an important issue and it is

upwind schemes, as well as the results obtained using the RNG k 3 at present under investigation by the authors. This very interesting

model, all share the tendency towards the value of the power co- result could make the study of the full 3D model more feasible and

efﬁcient in the range of 0.36e0.4 when employing the ﬁrst-order also more reliable for designing experiments and/or optimizing the

and second-order accurate schemes of the Taylor expansion. straight blade vertical axis wind turbine.

Clearly, the ﬁtting method using the second-order accurate scheme The power curve for the turbine performance shown in Fig. 6

is better than the ﬁtting of the ﬁrst-order scheme which is clearly agrees well with the results found in the literature (see Section

seen from the standard error in Fig. 4. It is important to highlight 2.2) for the full 2D model prediction of the turbine where the power

the power coefﬁcients produced when employing the SST coefﬁcient is over predicted by about 80% at higher tip speed ratios.

Fig. 5. 1st and 2nd order ﬁtting for four meshes at tip speed ratios in the range 0.5e4 for the SST Transitional model for M7, M6, M5 and M2 normalized by M2.

K.M. Almohammadi et al. / Energy 58 (2013) 483e493 491

Fig. 6. The power curve estimated by employing the 1st and 2nd ﬁtting method.

Even though the predicted power curve using the RNG k 3 model convergence, and therefore any oscillatory behaviour towards the

appears to agree well with the experimental data as shown in Fig. 6, mesh independent solution is not detected. An alternative form

important near wall ﬂow physics is not included in the modelling of the General Richardson Extrapolation method, namely the

because of the application of the standard wall function. Also, the Grid Convergence Index (GCI), is employed and because of the

RNG k 3 model has the capability to account for the rotational oscillatory nature of the solution the ﬁtting method is

effects of the ﬂow in the vicinity of the blades and correct the ﬂow considered.

stream lines according to the blade curvature which is not imple- In the ﬁtting method, both the 1st and 2nd order accurate

mented in the SST Transitional model. Thus a further investigation schemes have been employed in order to produce the power curve.

is required in this regard but this is beyond the scope and the aims The 2nd order accurate scheme is found to produce a small stan-

of this paper. However, employing the ﬁtting method would dard error and the power curves obtained by employing the SST

signiﬁcantly improve the investigation of the full 3D model where Transitional model are consistent with the results obtained for the

obtaining a mesh independent solution is extremely expensive. full 2D model found in the literature.

At low tip speed ratios, namely TSR < 1, it is clear from Fig. 6 that Evaluating these methods for a full 3D model is a very important

the SST Transitional model under predicts the experimental data future research area and it is being investigated by the authors.

for the turbine power coefﬁcient. However, this kind of turbine has

inherently a self-starting problem, as reported by many researchers

Acknowledgements

[44,46], and therefore the power coefﬁcient at low tip speed ratios

is expected to be low and it may be difﬁcult to accurately measure it

Khaled M. Almohammadi would like to express his gratitude to

experimentally. Therefore, the power coefﬁcient predication pro-

Taibah University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for supporting him to

duced by employing the SST Transition model is considered to be

perform his PhD study.

more reasonable compared to the power coefﬁcient produced by

employing the RNG k 3 model.

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**

tions. In: Conference, an evaluation of veriﬁcation procedures for CFD appli- p: order of accuracy

cations, Fukuoka, Japan. r: reﬁnement ratio

R: turbine radius [m]

R*: convergence condition

Nomenclature UN: upstream wind velocity [m/s]

v2: wall normal velocity scale

c: chord length [m] a: constant

cp: power coefﬁcient [Power/0.5rAV3] 3: turbulence dissipation [m2/s2]

cp: extrapolated power coefﬁcient. k: kinetic energy [m2/s2]

f : elliptic relaxation factor l: tip speed ratio (TSR)

h: characteristic mesh size [1/mesh size]2 u: speciﬁc dissipation rate [m2/s3]

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