Following years of research, the wind energy industry has taken off in Oregon and throughout the nation — supplying clean, renewable power to Oregonians and others. Researchers at Oregon universities have always been on the cutting edge of wind energy development, and they still are.
Hugh Currin and Jim Long, professors at the Oregon Institute of Technology, are using Oregon BEST research funding to develop an innovative way to model a turbine’s wake aerodynamics — research that could lead to better turbine designs and help attract wind energy companies to locate design and manufacturing facilities in Oregon.
“A free wake model is a new approach to the wake aerodynamics of a wind turbine,” Currin says. “It models the turbine’s wake by tracking individual vortices that form the wake, resulting in better wake predictions than currently used models. Accurate wake modeling allows better representation of the flow at the blades and therefore leads to improved turbine and blade designs.”
Although similar wake models have been developed and used in research, Currin and Long plan to integrate their new model into the widely accepted AeroDyn computer code, which is supported by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.
“Integrating a free wake model into AeroDyn has never been done,” Long says. “Doing so will give turbine designers easy access to the new modeling capabilities. And it will also be linked to a dynamic structural code, allowing consideration of dynamic events such as wind gusts and changes in wind direction.”
Free wake models tend to be computationally intensive but lend themselves to parallel processing. The Oregon BEST research team is taking advantage of this and the new multi-core processors to decrease the run time of the new model. This advance should bring run times in line with the needs of engineers and designers. The parallelization of the code base is aided by a grant from Intel, and the researchers are using donated Intel hardware and software tools to do the code studies.
“Continued development of wind energy research here in Oregon will bring our state national and international prominence,” Currin says. “That’s good for Oregon, and good for the world.”
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