Alberto Cardona of Universidad Nacional del Litoral and his team have made a significant advancement for the UPWARDS project in recent months.
The work done to date pertains to modelling of the interaction of air-flow with structural components. The UNL team worked with Siemens’ software tools (STAR-CCM+ and SAMCEF Mecano, correspondingly simulating air-flow & structural components [and their movements]), to enable increasingly sophisticated simulations of wind-turbines in operation.
“We are modelling the flow around a wind turbine, which is conventionally modelled as a rigid body member (meaning the blades are not deforming) only turning”.
Now this may seem like a minor adjustment to make to modelling software, it does however have major consequences. Currently wind turbine size is capped due to the incapability of the industry to understand and therefore predict how wind-turbines perform under various conditions to a finer degree. Speaking of deformation specifically, as the size of the turbine grows so do key parameters like length, mass and stress on components, thus likely increasing deformation experienced by the blades.
If such deformation is not kept within acceptable ranges this can not only prevent the wind-turbine from reaching optimal performance but can also cause serious damage and perhaps failure of the mechanical system.
Additionally, with the increased size of wind-turbine blades it is possible for complications in the material to arise through failure mechanisms that do not take place at a smaller scale and thus must be designed and engineered to compensate for accordingly.
Thus, development and validation of these improvements will have a direct impact on the size (and therefore capacity) and performance of existing wind-turbines, ushering in a new phase for the wind-energy industry.