SPONSOR: NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
PI: Qingli Dai
The objective of this collaborative research project is to advance the smart blade system through innovations in areas of advanced computational models of fluid-structure interactions, sensors and actuators. Wind energy, an important source of clean and renewable energy, is becoming a major component of the U.S. energy portfolio. The interest in large capacity wind turbines as an economical way to harvest wind energy has significantly increased in recent years. Wind turbine blades are over 100m in length and the trend of increasing the size of the blades continues. However, increases in the size of wind turbine blades means that aerodynamic vibrations need to be managed to prevent catastrophic failures. The collaborative project team takes an innovative perspective to advance the smart turbine blade technology. The hypothesis of this research is that aerodynamic vibrations in wind turbine blades can be effectively mitigated with bio-inspired strategies for flow sensing, surface morphological change and fluid-structure interactions. The specific goals of this research project are 1) to understand blade vibration dynamics with advanced modeling of fluid-structure interactions; 2) to study the mechanism of bio-sensing for flow turbulence determination and to implement a feasible sensor design strategy; and 3) to understand and emulate the functions of “smart fins” and “smart denticles” for aerodynamic vibration reductions. A systematic approach will be undertaken by combining modeling, sensing and actuation strategies. The smart blade system performance will also be validated via simulation-based virtual testing and reduced-scale model experiments. All of these aim to advance the state of art in the smart wind turbine blades.
This project presents a great opportunity to advance smart blade technologies, which include intelligent components for blade vibration reduction. A unique bio-inspired strategy will be pursued to prevent catastrophic failures of wind turbine blades by effectively mitigating the aerodynamic vibrations. The strategy will also improve the operational efficiency of the wind energy system. All of these advances will have important impacts on the safe and efficient production of wind energy.