Lots of Things to Model in a Wind Turbine

Phil Kinnane | March 16, 2012

Following up on my previous blog post about protecting wind turbines from lightning strikes, I got to thinking about other modeling aspects of wind turbines. Structural mechanics is of course important, and we have a couple of models that center on this.

The first is a model that we ship with COMSOL. This investigates the counteracting effects of stress-stiffening and spin-softening that arises in these turbine blades. They are brought about by the forces that the turbine itself contributes, namely centrifugal forces. The example also shows how Coriolis forces can also be included and presents the results in a Campbell Diagram.

Wind Turbine, COMSOL Multiphysics

Another example was actually presented at the COMSOL Conference in 2010. While the effects from lightning strikes, wind and centrifugal forces are obviously to be accounted for when constructing wind turbines, another interesting contributor are earthquakes and seismic shifts. Chad Van der Woude and Sriram Narasimhan at the University of Waterloo in Canada put together a tremendously well-written paper and presentation.

In it, they present a transient study of a wind turbine subjected to wind and seismic loading. They found that the structural responses due to seismic loads have significantly different characteristics from those due to wind loads. The model set is well-formulated and the contributing equations thoroughly presented. A very interesting read for all who are interested in structural mechanics and it’s even quite understandable for those that do not have that background.

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