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Turbulence Modeling and Simulation of Unsteady Transitional Boundary Layers and Wakes with Application to Wind Turbine Aerodynamics
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Wind energy industry thrived in the last three decades, environmental concerns and government regulations stimulate studies on wind farm location selection and wind turbine design. Full-scale experiments and high-fidelity simulations are restrictive due to the prohibitively high cost, while the model-scale experiments and low-fidelity calculations miss key flow physics of unsteady high Reynolds number flows. A hybrid RANS/LES turbulence model integrated with transition formulation is developed and tested by a surrogate model problem through joint experimental and computational fluid dynamics approaches. The model problem consists of a circular cylinder for generating coherent unsteadiness and a downstream airfoil in the cylinder wake. The cylinder flow is subcritical, with a Reynolds number of 64,000 based upon the cylinder diameter. The quantitative dynamics of vortex shedding and Reynolds stresses in the cylinder near wake were well captured, owing to the turbulence-resolving large eddy simulation method that was invoked in the wake. The power spectrum density of velocity components showed that the flow fluctuations were well-maintained in cylinder wake towards airfoil and the hybrid model switched between RANS/LES mode outside boundary layer as expected. According to the experimental and simulation results, the airfoil encountered local flow angle variations up to ±50 degrees, and the turbulent airfoil boundary layer remained attached. Inspecting the boundary layer profiles over one shedding cycle, the oscillation about mean profile resembled the Stokes layer with zero mean. Further processing the data through phase-averaging technique found phase lags along the chordwise locations and both the phase-averaged and mean profiles collapsed into the Law of Wall in the range of 0 < y+ < 50. The features of high blade loading fluctuations due to unsteadiness and transitional boundary layers are of interest in the aerodynamic studies of full-scale wind turbine blades, making the model problem a comprehensive benchmark case for future model development and validation.
- Doctoral Dissertations