Investigation of Physics-Based Approaches for Wind Turbine Modeling and Design

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Nucci, Michael
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Rising oil costs have created a need for a new sustainable energy source. Currently wind energy is beginning to fulfill this need. With many financial incentives being offered for clean energy, wind turbines are a promising green energy source. Wind turbine analysis can be difficult and costly. Accurate spanwise pressure distributions are difficult to measure experimentally, and a full-fledged Navier-Stokes analysis is very computationally expensive. A comparison of two separate computer codes was performed. These include PROPID, which uses a blade element momentum theory method and empirical data about the wind turbine airfoil. The second method is a Reynolds Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) CFD code called windrotor2 which also was used to predict the performance of the NREL Phase VI rotor. Once the codes were validated they were then used to predict the performance of new rotor designs. This research shows that PROPID can be used as a surrogate model for turbine analysis and design. PROPID can be shown to predict performance that is on par with CFD methods in terms of accuracy, but takes only a fraction of the time to perform the analysis. PROPID can also be shown to accurately predict the performance of new turbine configurations as long as empirical data is readily available.
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Undergraduate Thesis
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