Development of a rig and testing procedures for the experimental investigation of horizontal axis kinetic turbines




Lartiga, Catalina

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The research detailed in this thesis was focused on developing an experimental testing system to characterize the non-dimensional performance coefficients of horizontal axis kinetic turbines, including both wind turbines and tidal turbines. The testing rig was designed for use in a water tunnel with Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) wake survey equipment to quantify the wake structures. Precision rotor torque measurement and speed control was included, along with the ability to yaw the rotor. The scale of the rotors were purposefully small, to enable rapid-prototyping techniques to be used to produce many different test rotors at low cost to furnish a large experimental dataset. The first part of this work introduces the mechanical design of the testing rig developed for measuring the output power of the scaled rotor models with consideration for the requirements imposed by the PIV wake measurements. The task was to design a rig to fit into an existing water tunnel facility with a cross sectional area of 45 by 45 cm, with a rotor support structure to minimize the flow disturbance while allowing for yawed inflow conditions. A rig with a nominal rotor diameter of 15 cm was designed and built. The size of the rotor was determined by studying the fluid similarities between wind and tidal turbines, and choosing the tip speed ratio as a scaling parameter. In order to maximize the local blade Reynolds number, and to obtain different tip speed ratios, the rig allows a rotational speed in the range of 500 to 1500 RPM with accurate rotor angular position measurements. Rotor torque measurements enable rotor mechanical power to be calculated from simulation results. Additionally, it is included in this section a description of the instrumentation for measurement and the data acquisition system. It was known from the outset that measurements obtained in the experiments would be subject to error due to blockage effects inherent to bounded testing facilities. Thus, the second part of this work was dedicated to developing a novel Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) methodology to post-process the experimental data acquired. This approach utilizes the velocity field data at the rotor plane obtained from the water tunnel PIV test data, and CFD simulations based on the actuator disk concept to account for blockage without the requirement for thrust data which would have been unreliable at the low forces encountered in the tests. Finally, the third part of this work describes the practical aspects of the laboratory project, including a description of the operational conditions for turbine testing. A set of preliminary measurements and results are presented, followed by conclusions and recommendations for future work. Unfortunately, the water tunnel PIV system was broken and thus unavailable for more than a year, so only mechanical measurements were possible with the rig during the course of this thesis work.



Turbine testing Rig, Blockage effects in water tunnel turbine testing, Experimental Investigation, Horizontal Axis Kinetic Turbines