Large-scale indoor wind turbine testing

The UW Live Fire Research Facility is capable of performing unique experiments due to its large scale. In 2008, initial testing was performed on the UW Wind Energy Group (WEG) turbine. The UW WEG turbine was designed and assembled by the graduate students in the Wind Energy Group. It is a 4.5m diameter turbine that operates at variable speeds up to 220rpm, and is capable of producing 3kW of power in 11m/s wind.

Goals and Objectives

The primary goals of turbine testing were to determine the power production and to apply the particle image velocimetry (PIV) technique to produce flow visualization images and velocity vector maps near the tip of the blade. The testing was also designed to be a preliminary study of the potential for future research using the turbine apparatus and to outline its limitations.

Further testing of the turbine was conducted in the fall of 2008. An experiment was designed to verify the applicability of blade element momentum (BEM) theory to experimental data. Typically an analytical approach, the BEM procedure requires operating conditions and rotor geometries to estimate how the flow field, specifically the flow velocity behind the rotor plane, is affected by the presence of the rotor. With such flow field information determined, turbine performance can be predicted. In this case, an experiment was prepared that measured the flow field information required, and turbine performance was estimated using this experimental data by following the same method as the analytical approach.

More testing is planned for 2010. Experiments will be performed using a newly designed set of blades with interchangeable tips. This project will assess the effect of various tip designs (plane tip, endplate, winglet, etc.) on wind turbine performance.