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 and 3M, we form a unique and powerful collaboration to deliver the best-in-class Vortex Generator solution for wind turbine rotor blades. The expertise of the three organizations combined created a new VG solution that is aerodynamically tested to provide the highest possible increase in AEP, with proven durability, and a standardized installation process that reduces installation costs and turbine downtime.

Until date we have successfully equipped over 1000 wind turbines with our Vortex Generators with an increase in annual energy production of 1.5 - 3.0%.

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

Reliability Driven By Superior Material Selection

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. 

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 source of noise. Delaying stall using VGs, subsequently reduces the noise emissions of the turbine.

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 show the additional loads imposed by the Vortex Generators are considered to be insignificant.

Individual Flow Visualization & Installation

Every wind turbine blade is different. The in-filed flow visualization process we developed is highly customized to the blade type. This allows for the recapturing of the maximum amount of power production otherwise lost to aerodynamic stall in the root region of the blade.

Performance Evaluation

In order to offer a complete solutions to wind turbine operators SMART BLADE® performs a full performance evaluation after the installation of VGs. We have years of experience in the analysis of performance data and developed a sophisticated evaluation process, using high frequent SCADA data to improve the accuracy of the results.

Performance improvement of a VG turbine.

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