Multielement Airfoils for Wind Turbines

Adam M. Ragheb, Michael S. Selig

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The thick root airfoils of modern wind turbines, with current technology designs reaching 45% thickness, are incapable of producing high lift, and as a consequence, the blades are aerodynamically and structurally suboptimal. Additionally, the road-transportable blade length is limited to between 53 and 62. m depending on the specific blade geometry. The use of multielement airfoil arrangements on utility-scale wind turbine blades has the potential to allow for (1) improving aerodynamics near the hub section, (2) improving the structural arrangement, and (3) creating natural disconnect points that ease transportation constraints. Segmented blades are already being used by wind turbine manufacturers, including Gamesa and Enercon, to solve transportation constraints. Studies that investigated candidate multielement airfoil configurations to serve as an aerodynamic fairing for an assumed spar cap yielded promising results. The use of multielement airfoils for wind turbines can increase the blade efficiency, provide better start-up performance, and offer gross annual energy production (GAEP) benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWind Energy Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationA Handbook for Onshore and Offshore Wind Turbines
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780128094297
ISBN (Print)9780128094518
StatePublished - May 16 2017


  • Aerodynamics
  • Airfoils
  • Flap
  • High lift
  • Multielement
  • Segmented blades
  • Slat
  • Transportation
  • Wind
  • Wind power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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