The future generation of wind turbines will be characterised by longer and more flexible blades. These large wind turbines are facing higher Reynolds numbers, as a consequence of longer chord lengths and increased relative wind speeds. Higher tip speeds, however, also result in an increased Mach number.
Although the maximum tip speed in steady design conditions may remain (well) below the critical value, the presence of turbulence, wind gusts, blade deflections, etc. in combination with the flow acceleration over the airfoil surface, may cause a significant increase in the velocity perceived by the blades.
We have evaluated the operational conditions of the IEA 15MW reference turbine using OpenFAST in normal design and off-design conditions to demonstrate whether, if unabated, near-future wind turbines may be at risk of suffering from supersonic flow.
About the Aerodynamics & Control Seminar Series
The Aerodynamics & Control Seminars, hosted by the Department of Aeronautics, are a series of talks by internationally renowned academics covering a broad range of topics in fluid mechanics, control, and the intersection of these two areas.