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Title: Optimisation of wind turbine blade structural topology
Author: Buckney, Neil
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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Wind turbines become more cost effective as they grow larger; however the blade mass increases at a greater rate than the power. For a continued size increase, reducing the mass of the blades is necessary. Additionally, lighter blades lower overall turbine costs because the loads on the rest of the structure are decreased. Therefore, the use of lightweight blades can have a significant impact on the cost of wind energy. To achieve blade mass reductions, an alternative structural layout is generated using topology optimisation. The result is a topology which varies along the blade length, transitioning from a structure with trailing edge reinforcement to one with offset spar caps. An alternative beam topology optimisation method is developed that enabled a buckling constraint to be applied. The structural efficiency of the topologically optimised blade is then assessed using shape factors and performance indices, measures which have been expanded to account for asymmetric bending of beams with multiple materials. The utility of shape factors is first demonstrated on six example beam sections before being applied to the blade. To demonstrate application to a more refined design, the performance of a 100m wind turbine blade is assessed , using maps to visualise the structural efficiency. The effect of using carbon fibre and offsetting the spar caps is evaluated, providing a greater understanding of the improved designs. Overall , the results show that wind turbine blades can be improved with structural layouts that take advantage of favourable bend-bend coupling between the out-of-plane and in-plane directions. Because traditional design concepts do not account for bending coupling, a missed opportunity for further mass reduction exists. To this day, the structural topology of the blades has remained fixed despite increasing length and changing loads. Topology optimisation and structural efficiency analysis are shown as methods used to challenge this design convention and reduce blade mass, thereby lowering the cost of wind energy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available