Fluid-Structure Interaction of Wind Turbines

Professor Yuri Bazilevs

The rising costs and highly fluctuating prices of oil and natural gas, as well as their constantly diminishing supplies worldwide create the need for cheaper, sustainable alternative energy sources. Wind turbines that harvest wind energy and convert it to electrical power are such an energy source, playing an increasingly important role and receiving much attention from governments and industry around the world.



Wind turbines present several substantial engineering challenges and would greatly benefit from the use of advanced predictive simulation tools. Computational analysis plays a key role in the design and analysis of complex engineering systems. Automobile crash analysis, as well as the design and evaluation of commercial and military aircraft, routinely use advanced computational tools. As such, wind turbines should not be an exception. Regretfully, advanced high-fidelity computational methods for wind turbine analysis that are capable of addressing the above mentioned issues are notably lacking.

In this work, we directly address this deficiency by jump-starting, taking leadership in, and setting the standard for computational fluid-structure interaction research and education on wind energy applications world wide. This work is a collaborative work with Professor Benson (UC San Diego), Dr. Tayfun Tezduyar (RICE), and Professor Gil Hegemier (UC San Diego). At left is a three-dimensional simulation of a full-scale wind turbine rotor. The blade diameter is 120 m, the wind speed is 15 m/s, and the rotation rate is 10 RPM. These are typical operating conditions for off-shore wind turbines, which are more severe and challenging to compute than in-land designs. This preliminary computation makes use of over 2,000,000 second-order NURBS isogeomeric elements and 90 processors on a Dell PowerEdge Cluster.