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Title: The origins of a wind turbine tip vortex
Authors: Micallef, Daniel
Akay, Busra
Ferreira, Carlos Simao
Sant, Tonio
van Bussel, Gerard
Keywords: Wind turbines
Vortex generators
Turbomachines -- Blades
Speed -- Measurement
Wind tunnels
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Institute of Physics Publishing
Citation: Micallef, D., Akay, B., Ferreira, C. S., Sant, T., & van Bussel, G. (2014). The origins of a wind turbine tip vortex. 4th Scientific Conference on the Science of Making Torque from Wind, Oldenburg. 012074.
Abstract: The tip vortex of a wind turbine rotor blade originates as a result of a complex distribution of vorticity along the blade tip thickness. While the tip vortex evolution was extensively studied previously in other work, the mechanism of the initiation of the tip vorticity in a 3D rotating environment is still somewhat obscured due to lack of detailed experimental evidence. This paper therefore aims at providing an understanding of how tip vorticity is formed at the wind turbine blade tip and what happens just behind the tip trailing edge. Stereo Particle Image Velocimetry (SPIV) is used to measure the flow field at the tip of a 2m diameter, two- bladed rotor at the TU Delft Open Jet Facility (OJF). The rotor has a rectangular blade tip. Spanwise measurements were performed for both axial and yawed flow conditions with a very small azimuthal increment. A 3D, unsteady, potential flow panel method is also used for the purpose of better understanding the tip bound vorticity. A validation study is carried out with positive results. This paper is focused on axial flow results. A complex distribution of vorticity is found along the blade tip thickness. Just after release, the tip vortex becomes almost immediately round and well defined. Observations from the MEXICO rotor are confirmed again by a slight inboard convection of the tip vortex. This is explained by means of the effect of chordwise vorticity at the tip from the numerical solutions. The results presented in this work suggest that a more physical interpretation of the tip loss effect is required. Currently, inclusion of tip effects are based primarily on either wake induced effects or on an empirical 3D correction for airfoil data. This research should stimulate a more rigorous approach, where the effects of the blade tip chordwise vorticity are implemented in tip correction models.
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