Design of an Experimental Rig to Characterize the Gust Response of Small Wind Turbines and Autorotating Seeds

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Hussain, Najiba
Unsteady aerodynamics of wind turbines , Samara seed aerodynamics , Experimental fluid dynamics
This thesis investigates the rotational behavior of abstracted small-wind-turbine rotors exposed to a sudden increase in oncoming flow velocity, i.e. a gust. These rotors consisted of blades with aspect ratios characteristic of samara seeds, which are known for their ability to maintain autorotation in unsteady wind. The models were tested in a towing tank using a custom-built experimental rig. The setup was designed and constructed to allow for the measurement of instantaneous angular velocity of a rotor model towed at a prescribed kinematic profile along the tank. The conclusions presented in this thesis are based on the observed trends in effective angle-of-attack distribution, tip speed ratio, angular velocity, and time delay in the rotational response for each of rotors over prescribed gust cases. It was found that the blades with the higher aspect ratio had higher tip speed ratios and responded faster than the blades with a lower aspect ratio. The decrease in instantaneous tip speed ratio during the onset of a prescribed gust correlated with the time delay in each rotor model's rotational response. The time delays were found to increase nonlinearly with decreasing durations over which the simulated gusts occurred.
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