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Experimentally validated three-dimensional computational aerodynamics of wind turbine blade sections featuring leading edge erosion cavities

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/01/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Wind Energy
Issue number1
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)168-189
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date27/06/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Wind turbine blade leading edge erosion reduces the lift and increases the drag of the blade airfoils. This occurrence, in turn, reduces turbine power and energy yield. This study focuses on the aerodynamic analysis of large and sparse erosion cavities, observed in intermediate to advanced erosion stages, whose size and surface pattern do not lend themselves to experimental and numerical analysis by means of distributed roughness models alone. Making use of three-dimensional Navier-Stokes computational fluid dynamics enhanced by laminar-to-turbulent transition modeling, and geometrically resolving individual erosion cavities, the study validates this simulation-based approach for predicting the aerodynamics and performance loss of blade sections featuring the aforementioned erosion cavities against available experimental data. It is found that the considered cavities can trigger transition, indicating the necessity of both resolving their geometry in the simulations and also modeling distributed surface roughness, of typically lower level, as this latter affects the properties of boundary layers and, if sufficiently high, may trigger transition over the entire spanwise length affected. The energy yield loss of a utility-scale turbine due to the considered erosion pattern is found to be between 2.1% and 2.6% using measured and computed force data of the nominal and eroded outboard blade airfoil. A parametric analysis of the cavity geometry suggests that the geometry of the cavity edge has a much larger impact on aerodynamic performance than the cavity depth.