One of the research activities of SMART BLADE in the field of flow control is the investigation of modern, cutting edge experimental solutions. One of these new solutions in the field of wind turbine flow control is the implementation of plasma actuators. These actuators consist of encapsulated electrodes kept to a distance via a dielectric material. Depending on the design of the electrodes, the characteristics of the configuration as well as the voltage and the frequency of the supplied current it is possible to produce different flows of ionized plasma. The plasma flows interact with the main flow over the airfoil/wind turbine blade and consequently alter the characteristics of the main flow. It is therefore possible with proper actuator configuration to induce significant changes upon the flow. We are currently investigating the possibility of using plasma actuators for wind turbine flow control.
The images on the top row depict the plasma actuator attached on a cylinder. The cylinder is inside the wind tunnel with the plasma actuator in operation (Left) and the flow separation region is reduced. When the plasma actuator is switched off (Right) the flow separation region is significantly larger.
The images at the bottom row depict a typical wind turbine "root section" airfoil with plasma actuator mounted at its suction side (top side). The flow remains attached even at high angles of attack when the plasma actuator is operational. The same airfoil with the plasma actuator switched off experiences stall.
The SMART BLADE Research & Development team published and presented a Scientific Paper & Poster at the 2011 DEWEK conference in Bremen (Germany) on the topic of Plasma Actuators for Wind Turbine applications.