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Category: 4

Evaluation and Verification of CFD-Simulation Using OpenFOAM for Wind Turbines

Bernhard Stoevesandt, Johan Stander, Nils Kirrkamm, Joachim Peinke
ForWind, Center of Wind Energy Research, Oldenburg, Germany
Tel: ++49 441 798 3577

1. Introduction
Computational fluid dynamics offer a great promise to revolutionize the development of aerodynamic
machinery. The expected solutions of the modified Navier Stokes equations rise hope for new
horizons of rather optimization in aerodynamics. This is even more true for wind turbine development
as scaled wind tunnel testings hardly ever reflect complete realistic conditions not even considering
the costs of such experiments[1].
However, the method has two significant drawbacks: The first is yet the lack of accuracy for such a
complex aerodynamic system as a wind turbine in turbulent flow[2]. Thus in most cases CFD
methods are used with quite some success for wind field and wake modeling[3]. The second
drawback are the costs of typical CFD-Programs. Since the computational cost are high, parallel
computing is an important feature. However licensing usually also calculates the used nodes
increasing licence costs additionally to computation cost.
One answer could be to turn to open source CFD tools. OpenFOAM is the most prominent one on the
market at the time being[4]. However the reliability of such a tool for wind turbine simulations needs to
be evaluated.
Here we will present the first results of a simulation using OpenFOAM on the wind turbine that has
been studied by wind tunnel measurements in the Mexico-Project[5].
2. The Mexico-Project
In the Mexico project the flow at a three bladed wind turbine with a rotor diameter of 4.5 m has been
investigated. Measurements have been done at the German-Dutch wind tunnel facilities . The blade
root bending moments have been measured by strain gauges. The overall forces were measured by a
6 component balance on which the turbine has been mounted. The flow properties along the blade
were measured by over all 148 pressure sensors. And the flow behaviour has been documented by
PIV measurements mainly focussing on the tip vortices.
The measurements have been performed at standstill and 325-425 rpm for direct and yawed inflow at
different pitch angels.
Thus the experiment delivered a good data basis for the verification of numerical aerodynamics tools.
3. Numerical simulations
The very first results of a simulation using a rotational frame of reference for the rotor in a steady
RANS simulation showed a non-suitability of the method for wind turbine simulations.
Thus unsteady simulations have been performed using a sliding interfaces solver of OpenFOAM.
Simulations have been done for a straight and a yawed inflow case on the turbine.
The grid consisted of 12 million elements, including only the direct flow field of the wind tunnel. The
turbulence has been grasp by a k-w SST model.
First comparisons of the results were quite satisfactory, however some deviations to the
measurements are still present and will be tackled in the next simulation runs.
[1] Schreck S., Robinson M. Unsteadiness in HAWT blade aerodynamic forces and flow field
structures. AIAA Paper 2005- 0776, 2005
[2] Mcke T., Keinhans D., Peinke J., Atmospheric turbulence and its influence on the alternating
loads on wind turbines, submitted to Wind Energy, 2010
[3] Steinfeld G., Tambke J., Peinke J., Heinemann D., Development of a tool for the study of the flow
conditions and turbulent loads in offshore wind farms, Proceedings of the EWEC 2010
[4] Kirrkamm N., Stoevesandt B., Gollnick B., Peinke P. Simulation of a multi mega watt wind turbine
blade with opensource code OpenFOAM, Proceedings of the EWEC 2010
[5] H. Snel, J.G. Schepers and A. Siccama, Mexico, the database and results of data processing and
analysis 47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences meeting, Orlando, USA, January 2009