Drag reduction using riblet film applied to airfoils for wind turbines

Agrim Sareen, Robert W. Deters, Steven P. Henry, Michael S. Selig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents results of a study that was commissioned by the 3M Renewable Energy Division to measure the drag reduction by using riblet film on airfoils specifically designed for wind turbine applications. The DU 96-W-180 airfoil was tested with four different symmetrical V-shaped riblet sizes (44, 62, 100, and 150-μm) at three Reynolds numbers (1 × 106, 1.5 × 106, and 1.85 × 106) and at angles of attack spanning the low drag range of the airfoil. Tests were run with riblet film covering different sections of the airfoil in order to determine the optimal riblet location in terms of drag reduction. Results showed that the magnitude of drag reduction depended on the angle of attack, Reynolds number, riblet size, and riblet location. For some configurations, riblets produced significant drag reduction of up to 5%, while for others riblets were detrimental. Trends in the results indicated an optimum riblet size of 62-μm for the range of Reynolds numbers at which tests were conducted. The airfoil chord was 18 in (0.457 m). Results also showed that each riblet size performed best at a given Reynolds number with the optimal Reynolds number decreasing with an increase in riblet size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021007
JournalJournal of Solar Energy Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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