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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Given the industry-wide trend of continual increases in the size of utility-scale wind turbines, a point will come where reductions will need to be made in terms of the weight of the turbine’s blades to ensure they can be as long as needed without sacrificing structural stability. One such technique that may be considered is to decrease the material used for the shell and spar cap. While this will solve the weight issue, it creates a new one entirely—less material for the shell and spar cap will in turn create blades that are more flexible than what is currently used. This article aims to investigate how the oscillatory response of light-weight wind turbine rotors is affected by these flexibility changes. The object of our study is the Sandia National Lab National Rotor Testbed (SNL-NRT) wind turbine, which the authors investigated in the course of a research project supported by SNL. Using a reduced-order characterization (ROC) technique based on controlled gust pulses, introduced by the authors in a previous work, the aeroelastic dynamics of the NRT’s original baseline blade design and several of its flexible variations were studied via numerical simulations employing the CODEF multiphysics suite. Results for this characterization are presented and analyzed, including a generalization of the ROC of the SNL-NRT oscillatory dynamics to larger machines with geometrical similarity. The latter will prove to be valuable in terms of extrapolating results from the present investigation and other ongoing studies to the scale of current and future commercial machines.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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