Optimisation of vertical axis wind turbines
A practical Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWTs) based on a Darrieus rotor has been designed and tested and found to be capable of self-starting at wind speeds above 4m/s. The self-start feature has been achieved by replacing the usual symmetrical aerofoil blade in the VAWT rotor and by using a concentric Savonius rotor or semi-cylinder turbine. A computer program was produced to compute the power coefficient versus tip speed ratio characteristics of a selected aerofoil profile employed in a VAWT. The program accounts for chord length, pitch angle, number of blades, and rotor radius at any wind speed. The published data from 40 aerofoil sections were assessed, taking into account the two main criteria — self-starting and efficiency. Computational fluid dynamics software (ANSYS, Flotran) has been used to investigate the lift and drag performance of a NACA 66-212 and NACA 4421 aerofoils in order to check the computer program predictions. Excellent agreement was obtained for the static aerofoil assessment, but only after special ICEM Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) meshing interface routines were utilised. However, agreement between the theoretical and published results was not good for the rotating aerofoils in a VAWT. Thus, further CFD work was not pursued and in preference, an experimental route was initiated. In the first series of wind tunnel tests involving three candidate profiles, good agreement was found between the experimental results and the mathematical models. The aerofoils chosen were the NACA 661-212, the 51223 and the Clark-Y standard aerofoils. A number of prototype VAWTs were fabricated and tested for the influence of the blade pitch angle, the chord length ratio, with 2 or 3 blades. The aerofoil surfaces were made from aluminium sheet with a standard surface finish. The prototype designs were tested in the Northumbria University low speed wind tunnel facility - the models were 0.4 m. high with a 0.4 m diameter. The torque versus wind speed characteristics were recorded and analysed. The S 1223 profile was found to be self-starting with high efficiency. This model generated a high power coefficient of about 0.3 at a tip speed ratio of 1.2. The second series of tests were carried out in field sites in the UK with a 2 m diameter straight—bladed Darrieus rotor prototype with 3 blades using the S1223 blade section. Three field trials were undertaken in the UK to produce realistic performance characteristics for wind conditions of 4-10 m/s. The maximum power coefficient of this machine was found to be 0.18 at a tip speed ratio of 1.2. In addition, an alternative semi-cylinder turbine combined with a Darrieus rotor was fabricated and tested in the UK. It demonstrated the advantage that it could self-start at lower wind speeds, that is 3m/s but delivers approximately 50% less power than that obtained from the first proposed design. A final phase of testing was carried out with an enlarged and modified 3 m diameter prototype installed at a shrimp farm in Thailand to demonstrate how the unit could be used to replace an equivalent 2 HP 2-stroke diesel engine and hence eliminate its inherent emission pollution problems. A Savonius rotor was fitted to the prototype to improve self-start capabilities at a wind speed of 4 m/s for a practical application which by its nature required a high starting torque. The designs are easy to fabricate, low cost, pollution free and have been demonstrated to be ideal for applications in developing countries where there are sufficient wind resources.