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Researchers present new findings in wind turbine efficiency at the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting

Researchers from Syracuse University have developed a new type of air flow technology that is capable of increasing the efficiency of large wind turbines.

The study was led by Syracuse University researchers Guannan Wang, Jakub Walczak, Mark Glauser, Basman El Hadidi and Hiroshi Higuchi. These researchers have designed new intelligent-systems-based active flow control methods in an effort to improve wind turbine efficiency.

Renewable energy has been a hot topic and a desirable alternative to fossil fuels, but making certain forms of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, as efficient as our present source of electricity has been a challenge. Clean energy did experience an important achievement in 2008 when more new wind turbine power generation capacity was introduced in the U.S. than new coal-fired power generation. But despite this victory, problems still remain within the design of these turbines, thus hindering them from being the best source of electricity. 

A large issue with wind power, for instance, is the wind's changeability. Wind turbines work best under steady wind conditions, but when a turbulent flow or wind gust occurs, the efficiency of turbine blades declines. 

To remedy this issue, the Syracuse University researchers created a new type of air flow technology that estimates the flow conditions over the blade surfaces from "surface measurements," and then transfers this information to those in charge of controls. Real-time actuation is then put into effect on the blades to control air flow as well as reduce excessive vibration and noise caused by flow separation. 

After testing this new active flow control method, researchers found that adding flow control to the outboard side of the blade "beyond the half radius" could broaden the operational range of the turbine "with the same rated power output or considerably increase the rated output power for the same level of operational range." Researchers will also be testing the airfoil lift and drag characteristics in a new anechoic wind tunnel facility at Syracuse University.

Syracuse University researchers are not the only scientists looking to improve the use of wind energy. University of Minnesota researchers have contributed to the increased efficiency of wind turbines as well by looking to resolve wind energy's problem with drag, which is the resistance felt by the turbine's blades as they move through the air. To do this, they placed shallow and tiny grooves, which look like triangular riblets, onto the turbine blades and used wind tunnel tests of 2.5 megawatt turbine airfoil surfaces as well as computer simulations to observe the effects of different groove geometries. The result was that the triangular riblets produced a drag reduction of six percent and an overall wind efficiency increase of three percent. 

The Syracuse University study and the University of Minnesota study were both presented at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting on November 21.

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By Anoxanmore on 11/22/2010 1:24:45 PM , Rating: 4
I'm sorry but the only way forward is nuclear power.


Maybe within five years people will realize this and finally give up on the stupid "OMG NUCLAR IS EVIL!!!!!111oneoneone"

A girl can dream can't she?

RE: No.
By tng on 11/22/2010 1:38:04 PM , Rating: 2
So this just gets us more power from turbines when the wind is gusty, to low or to high. At least that is what I get from this without checking the links.

What happens when there is no wind.....

RE: No.
By Ammohunt on 11/22/2010 1:47:29 PM , Rating: 2
easy! the tubines will have a motor that spins them powered by a nuke plant! problem solved!

RE: No.
By kattanna on 11/22/2010 4:25:05 PM , Rating: 2
kinda like spain using diesel generators to power their solar panels

RE: No.
By tharik on 11/22/2010 4:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that nuke power should be used. If they would start using Thorium reactors we would be set for the next 2000 years.

Tidal power should also be used, you know the moon, it raises and lowers the seas and seems to be pretty regular.

For wind and solar which are not so predictable we should convert the electricity into synthetic natural gas, so it can be stored until needed. Trucks could transport the gas created by smaller plants and pipe lines could be used for bigger plants.

Lets think people! None of this is rocket science!

RE: No.
By phantom505 on 11/23/2010 3:02:13 AM , Rating: 2
Whose backyard are you going to put it in?

That's the problem. Look what happened at Yucca Mtn. Town of nothing in population took piles of money then killed the repository. Try getting a reactor built.

RE: No.
By Solandri on 11/23/2010 5:16:50 AM , Rating: 3
All that nuclear "waste" actually still contains over 90% of the atomic energy in the original uranium. It's only classified as "waste" because we've banned reprocessing in this country. France happily reprocesses and their nuclear waste "problem" is nowhere near the magnitude of ours. (They still have the NIMBY problem though - good read in this article about how they're addressing it.)

And just for reference, in terms of quantity of waste generated, nuclear is by far the cleanest fuel we have. The amount of nuclear waste generated from powering a typical U.S household for 30 years is about 500 mL. About the size of a small water bottle. If we reprocessed, we could reduce that to about the size of a couple cigarette lighters of less-radioactive waste. Compare that to hundreds of pounds of solar panels and framework which will need replacing in about 30 years.

RE: No.
By phantom505 on 11/23/2010 9:34:13 AM , Rating: 2
Sweet, you just made an argument I didn't bring up at all.

My point was, who are you going to get to build a reactor in their back yard? Most in the US will scream. I didn't say it wasn't a good idea. I also didn't say waste as a significant problem, I don't think it is per se.

Convincing enough people in one area to permit the building of said structures is a whole different problem.

RE: No.
By Shig on 11/23/2010 12:08:32 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that nuclear is needed at much bigger scales, but BIG nuclear is not the answer.

Within the next 5 years, SMRs are set to make a comeback and hopefully a big one. These would act as the 'batteries' to large renewable developments. With CSP or natural gas you could also have shared turbines.

It's a start
By sleepeeg3 on 11/22/2010 2:02:55 PM , Rating: 2
This is one of those times I need DailyTech to dumb it down and not plagiarize from the source article... Unfortunately, when you Google "flow control turbine", you get a million web-sites doing the same thing.

There are a few pictures and slightly better explanations here:

Best guess is they are talking about adding ailerons to the "outboard side of the blade" to be able to adjust for low-flow conditions.

The second study sounds promising, but how much would adding these tiny, triangular riblets increase the cost of production? More than 6%?

Either way, I think major efficiency changes need to improve how freely the blade spins along the axis or develop more radical designs than a 3 finned blade. Fans have been around for centuries - fundamentally, future design improvements are not going to yield major gains.

RE: It's a start
By Iketh on 11/22/2010 6:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
So if it's more than 6% increased production cost (a ONE-TIME fee), then it's not worth it??

RE: It's a start
By ZaethDekar on 11/23/2010 2:00:22 AM , Rating: 2
If it is over a 6% fee it will just add to how long it takes to start making money in return and it will add to maintenance as they are another part of the item that can be damaged. So then we will have a higher cost to run vs energy output ratio.

To Reduce Ambiguity
By VahnTitrio on 11/23/2010 10:54:23 AM , Rating: 2
Just being a little nitpicky here but use UMN for Minnesota (saying this as a UMN alumni). I know there's some Michigan alumni who read this article thinking it was about their school.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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