Natural snowfall reveals large-scale flow structures in the wake of a 2.5-MW wind turbine

Jiarong Hong, Mostafa Toloui, Leonardo P. Chamorro, Michele Guala, Kevin Howard, Sean Riley, James Tucker, Fotis Sotiropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To improve power production and structural reliability of wind turbines, there is a pressing need to understand how turbines interact with the atmospheric boundary layer. However, experimental techniques capable of quantifying or even qualitatively visualizing the large-scale turbulent flow structures around full-scale turbines do not exist today. Here we use snowflakes from a winter snowstorm as flow tracers to obtain velocity fields downwind of a 2.5-MW wind turbine in a sampling area of ∼n36 × 36 m 2. The spatial and temporal resolutions of the measurements are sufficiently high to quantify the evolution of blade-generated coherent motions, such as the tip and trailing sheet vortices, identify their instability mechanisms and correlate them with turbine operation, control and performance. Our experiment provides an unprecedented in situ characterization of flow structures around utility-scale turbines, and yields significant insights into the Reynolds number similarity issues presented in wind energy applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4216
JournalNature communications
Volume5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 24 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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    Hong, J., Toloui, M., Chamorro, L. P., Guala, M., Howard, K., Riley, S., Tucker, J., & Sotiropoulos, F. (2014). Natural snowfall reveals large-scale flow structures in the wake of a 2.5-MW wind turbine. Nature communications, 5, [4216]. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms5216