Smart Blades to Enhance Wind Turbine Performance

Project Sponsor:
Focus Area: 
Energy Research
Principal Investigator: 

As wind turbines increase in size in order to capture more power, so do much of the adverse natural effects such as wind gusts and atmospheric turbulence. Specifically, one of the largest factors in wind turbine fatigue has been shown to be dynamic stall, a phenomena where the angle of attack seen by the turbine blade passes in and out of its stall angle, resulting in highly fluctuating blade loading. In order to mitigate the structural stresses during dynamic stall, synthetic jets and dynamic vortex generators can be installed near the leading edge of the blade to add momentum and/or vorticity to the flow to keep it attached through the dynamic pitching motion. This has moved towards the field testing where dynamic vortex generators and synthetic jets have been installed and demonstrated on a 10 kW wind turbine at RPI as blade vibrations were monitored in real time and real world conditions. The next step of the project involves taking the field testing to the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado where a 600 kW wind turbine designed specifically for wind energy research is located. The cost and benefit of active flow control will be thoroughly investigated in parallel with wind tunnel testing simulating the real world conditions we see in the field.

Figure 1: The view from RPIs 10 kW research turbine showcasing the applicability of our synthetic jet technology, with part of Troy and campus grounds in the background


Figure 2: RPIs 10 kW research wind turbine



Figure 3: The NREL Controls Advanced Research Turbine (CART3) before being installed. Image credit to National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Figure 4: A scale model of the NREL CART3 removable tip in the CeFPaC subsonic wind tunnel. This research will help optimize the placement of flow control on the NREL CART3 to help minimize structural vibrations near the tip.


Related Publication:

  • Rice, T., Taylor, K., Amitay, M., "Wind Tunnel and Field Test Results on Reducing Load Oscillations on Wind Turbine Blades using Synthetic Jets," 35th Wind Energy Symposium, AIAA Sci-Tech, Vol. 2017-1378, January 2017.