Effects of leading edge erosion on wind turbine blade performance

Agrim Sareen, Chinmay A. Sapre, Michael S. Selig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents results of a study to investigate the effect of leading edge erosion on the aerodynamic performance of a wind turbine airfoil. The tests were conducted on the DU96-W-180 wind turbine airfoil at three Reynolds numbers between 1million and 1.85million, and angles of attack spanning the nominal low drag range of the airfoil. The airfoil was tested with simulated leading edge erosion by varying both the type and severity of the erosion to investigate the loss in performance due to an eroded leading edge. Tests were also run with simulated bugs on the airfoil to assess the impact of insect accretion on airfoil performance. The objective was to develop a baseline understanding of the aerodynamic effects of varying levels of leading edge erosion and to quantify their relative impact on airfoil performance. Results show that leading edge erosion can produce substantial airfoil performance degradation, yielding a large increase in drag coupled with a significant loss in lift near the upper corner of the drag polar, which is key to maximizing wind turbine energy production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1531-1542
Number of pages12
JournalWind Energy
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2014


  • aerodynamics
  • leading edge erosion
  • performance
  • wind turbine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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