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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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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.

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