Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Fernando Luis Ponta


Reducing the uncertainties related to blade dynamics by the improvement of the quality of numerical simulations of the fluid structure interaction process is a key for a breakthrough in wind-turbine technology. A fundamental step in that direction is the implementation of aeroelastic models capable of capturing the complex features of innovative prototype blades, so they can be tested at realistic full-scale conditions with a reasonable computational cost.

We make use of a code based on a combination of two advanced numerical models implemented in a parallel HPC supercomputer platform: First, a model of the structural response of heterogeneous composite blades, based on a variation of the dimensional reduction technique proposed by Hodges and Yu. This technique has the capacity of reducing the geometrical complexity of the blade section into a stiffness matrix for an equivalent beam. The reduced 1-D strain energy is equivalent to the actual 3-D strain energy in an asymptotic sense, allowing accurate modeling of the blade structure as a 1-D finite-element problem. This substantially reduces the computational effort required to model the structural dynamics at each time step. Second, a novel aerodynamic model based on an advanced implementation of the BEM(Blade ElementMomentum) Theory; where all velocities and forces are re-projected through orthogonal matrices into the instantaneous deformed configuration to fully include the effects of large displacements and rotation of the airfoil sections into the computation of aerodynamic forces. This allows the aerodynamic model to take into account the effects of the complex flexo-torsional deformation that can be captured by the more sophisticated structural model mentioned above.

In this thesis we have successfully developed a powerful computational tool for the aeroelastic analysis of wind-turbine blades. Due to the particular features mentioned above in terms of a full representation of the combined modes of deformation of the blade as a complex structural part and their effects on the aerodynamic loads, it constitutes a substantial advancement ahead the state-of-the-art aeroelastic models currently available, like the FAST-Aerodyn suite. In this thesis, we also include the results of several experiments on the NREL-5MW blade, which is widely accepted today as a benchmark blade, together with some modifications intended to explore the capacities of the new code in terms of capturing features on blade-dynamic behavior, which are normally overlooked by the existing aeroelastic models.