Performance Improvement for Wind Turbines

The blades of large, pitch regulated wind turbines often have poor aerodynamic properties at the root region due to blade production and operation limitations. The required structural twist of the blades is very expensive to realize and therefore, there is always a potential for aerodynamic improvement of their performance.

Vortex Generators (VGs) improve the performance of the blades by energizing the flow around its surface and reducing flow separation. The performance of the entire turbine in terms of power, loads and service life are therefore being improved.

Together with our partners UpWind Solutions in the US for the VG installation and 3M for all material and bonding aspects, we form a unique and powerful collaboration. Till date we have successfully equipped over 100 wind turbines with our performance boosting solution.

VGs delay flow seperation, increase the AEP of the turbine and reduce dynamic stall loads

Excellent Quality & Reliable Operation

AEP increase with VGs

Careful technical design assures the efficient aerodynamic operation with insignificant load increase and reduced noise operation. Through the extensive knowledge of 3M and their long experience, we can offer outstanding plastics and adhesives, which are used for the VG manufacturing and installation. This forms possibly the safest overall performance boosting solution on the market, as the lifetime and durability of our VGs remains unchallenged.

The optimized assets achieve a significantly higher energy yield and higher profitability. The increase depends on the turbine site, the turbine type and the turbine condition. As our long term field tests show, one can expect an increase in annual energy production of 2.0 - 3.0% or more. Contact us for a more detailed assessment for your revenue increase potential.

Reliability Driven By Superior Material Selection

For the development of the Vortex Generators, we collaborate closely with our strategic partner 3M. Together we have developed an outstanding product.

As reliability is the key to achieve a long-term profitable investment, the material selection and evaluation is based on 3M's extensive knowledge about plastics, bonding technologies and weathering. We provide Vortex Generators made out of a highly durable thermoplastic. Furthermore our VGs are equipped with 3M™ Acrylic Foam Tape die-cuts. The tapes provide excellent long term durability and holding power, while not damaging the blade surface. They have been performing successfully in a wide range of long term and demanding applications for over 30 years.

Wind Tunnel Testing

VG performance test in the wind tunnel
Sound pressure level of wing equipped with VGs

The SMART BLADE® custom Vortex Generator designs are being developed through extensive wind tunnel testing at the facilities of H.F.I TU Berlin. The tests are performed with various popular wind turbine airfoil sections and the optimal configurations are identified. With the proper placement of Vortex Generators a significant lift increase and stall delay is achieved with minimal drag penalty. The parametric analysis process involves airfoil force and pressure distribution measurements as well as Laser Particle Image Velocimetry in order to track the vortex paths of the VGs.

To clarify the effect of the vortex generators on noise emissions, SMART BLADE®   conducted aeroacoustic wind tunnel tests. The results of the tests show that the sound pressure level at high angles of attack is considerably lower when VGs are used. Separated flow is always a noise source and the VGs help to delay stall, thus reducing the subsequent noise. This results in significant noise reduction for the blade root region. 

Insignificant Additional Loading

FEA simulation of blade equipped with VGs

When wind turbines are equipped with retrofit Vortex Generators, operators are often concerned with the issue of additional blade loading which was not considered in the blade design and certification process. In order to quantify this effect, SMART BLADE® and 3M worked together with the CORE-Team of the Applied Mechanics Lab of the University of Patras.

Detailed parametric FEA simulations were performed on an actual full blade composite model. The results of the simulations showed that with respect to the design loads of the blade, the additional loads imposed by the installation of Vortex Generators are considered to be insignificant.

Please contact us at info(at)smart-blade.com for further details on the parametric full blade FEA analysis.

Individual Flow Visualization & Installation

Every wind turbine blade is different. In order to evaluate the best VG positioning, we perform flow visualizations on site using flow tufts, photogrametry and automatic image processing methods. SMART BLADE®  uses in-house developed equipment and automatic statistical data analysis methods to optimize your AEP.

For the VG installation and the development of the application process, we collaborate with our O&M partners. For the North American market we partner with UpWind Solutions possibly the most innovative and successful independent service provider in the US.

Performance Evaluation

In order to offer a complete solutions to wind turbine operators SMART BLADE performs full performance evaluation after the installation of SMART BLADE VGs. The analysis is initiated with the collection of historical data from the wind park operator. These are analysed aiming at profiling the site in terms of its wind speed and direction statistical distributions. Furthermore humidity, temperature and barometric pressure readings are sanitized and analyzed. 


More Information

For more technical information, custom design requests and pricing please
contact us at: info[at]smart-blade.com

>> SMART BLADE VG Product Brochure

>> SMART BLADE article on vortex generators at VDI