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  (Source: thefutureofthings.com)
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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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: http://www.sandia.gov/wind/other/084809.pdf

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.


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