Aerodynamic Performance Analysis of Three Bladed Savonius Wind Turbine with Different Overlap Ratios and at various Reynolds Number

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Considerable improvements in the aerodynamic performance of a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) can be achieved by integrating computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation and wind tunnel investigation in their design improvement. With the growing demand for energy worldwide, conventional sources are becoming more scarce and expensive. Wind is among the most popular and fastest growing sources of alternative energy in the world. It is an inexhaustible, indigenous resource, pollution-free, and available almost any time of the day, especially in coastal regions. Industry experts predict that, with proper development, wind energy could provide 20% of the nation’s energy needs. Vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) may be as efficient and practical as, and simpler, and significantly cheaper to build and maintain than, horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs). They have other inherent advantages; for example, they always face the wind. VAWTs include both a drag-type configuration, such as the Savonius rotor, and a lift-type configuration, such as the Darrieus rotor. The Savonius wind turbine is the simplest. Its operation depends on the difference in drag force when the wind strikes either the convex or concave part of its semi-cylindrical blades. It is good at self-starting and works independently of wind direction. However, its efficiency is relatively lower than that of the lift-type VAWTs. Due to its simple design and low construction cost, Savonius rotors are primarily used for water pumping and to generate wind power on a small scale and its large starting torque makes it suitable for starting other types of wind turbines that have inferior starting characteristics. Recently, some generators with high torque at low rotational speed, suitable for small-scale wind turbines, have been developed, suggesting that Savonius rotors may yet be used to generate electric power. The main goal of this research work is to improve the aerodynamic performance of the three bladed vertical axis Savonius wind turbine. Based on this goal, the objective of this project is to study the performance characteristics of the Savonius wind turbine scale models both experimentally and numerically. The turbine scale models will have different designs with different overlap ratios (ratio of gap between two adjacent blades and the rotor diameter) and without overlap within three blades. The experimental measurements and testing will be conducted in front of a low speed subsonic wind tunnel at different Reynolds number and the computational fluid dynamic (CFD) flow simulation around those design models will be performed by commercial CFD software FLUENT and GAMBIT.

Copyright © 2010 by ASME


Paper presented at the ASME 2010 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, November 12–18, 2010.



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