Experimental investigation of the effect of blade solidity on micro-scale and low tip-speed ratio wind turbines
Article dans une revue avec comité de lecture
It is well-established that micro-scale wind turbines require high blade solidity in order to overtake friction torque of all mechanical parts and starts operating. Therefore, multi-bladed micro-scale rotors with a low design tip-speed ratio λ are advocated. However, no consensual blade solidity is admitted by the scientific community at low Reynolds number and low tip-speed ratio because the reliability of the airfoil data, used in the blade element momentum theory, is questionable. The vast majority of the open literature has focused on the number of blades rather than varying blade chord length to increase the solidity. This experimental study carried out in a wind tunnel serves two purposes: to examine blade solidity effect on the power C p and torque coefficients C τ vs. tip-speed ratio curves at a fixed number of blades and to investigate its effects on the velocity distributions using stereoscopic particle image velocimetry (SPIV) for three tip-speed ratio λ = 0.5, λ = 1 and λ = 1.4. Six 200 mm diameter runners with 8 blades and various blade solidity from σ = 1.5 to σ = 0.5 were designed at λ = 1 without using airfoil data. The results emphasise that the maximum power coefficient increases with blade solidity up to a maximum value C p,max = 0.29 reached for σ = 1.25. High-solidity rotors have a very low cut-in wind speed V 0 = 3.8 m s −1 and their torque coefficient C τ decreases drastically and linearly while increasing the tip-speed ratio λ. These specificities could be of particular interest for energy harvesting of low speed air flow in order to power low-energy appliances. However, for low-solidity rotors, the C τ vs. λ curves present a similar trend than the lift coefficient vs. angle of attack polar plots of isolated airfoil which is characterised by a significant drop in C τ illustrating stall effect. An increase in blade solidity postpones and attenuates the stall effects due to greater mutual blade interactions. The SPIV recordings reveal that for high-solidity rotors the magnitude and radial profiles of axial and tangential induction factors and the flow deflection were close to the design settings. Moreover, the analysis exhibits that an increase in the blade solidity and tip-speed ratio leads to higher axial and tangential induction factors. The investigation of the wake highlights that the aerodynamic torque generated by a wind turbine is not produced in a same way as changing the blade solidity or the tip-speed ratio. To conclude, the best compromise between the maximum power coefficient, the cut-in wind speed, the mass of filament and the stability of the wake is achieved for the rotor with a blade solidity of σ = 1.25.
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