Celebrating Global Wind Day – 15th June

June 13, 2019
Picture of Wind Turbine

In celebration of Global Wind Day (15th June), we take a look at the custom built wind tunnel which forms part of the state-of-the-art facilities here at IMPACT.

The £1.2million wind tunnel facility, is used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects.  Compared to the previous Swansea University wind tunnel, it has three times the test section area, twice the wind speed, and generates four times as much dynamic pressure on test models.

The Facts:

  • The wind tunnel was installed in 2015.
  • It is 18m long x 7m tall x 5m wide, and weighs 50 tonnes.
  • The test section is 1.5m wide by 1m tall, with wind speeds up to 50m/s (112 mph).
  • The tunnel includes a state-of-the-art particle image velocimetry (PIV) system to measure fluid flow velocities in three dimensions, a 64-channel pressure scanner for simultaneous pressure measurements, a two-component hot-wire-velocimetry system, a high-precision three dimensional model deformation measurement system, an automated turntable system for pitch and yaw angle sweeps and a high-precision probe positioning system.
  • The design is a closed section, closed circuit system which is more energy efficient, quieter, and more consistent in air speed and temperature.

It also includes a novel, completely modular, transparent working section with high resolution balances and LED lighting which allows for unparalleled access, visibility, and versatility.  This allows the facility to be used for a variety of different activities and experiments, including researching advanced 2D airfoils, 3D wings, model aeroplanes with working engines, wind turbine blade sections, and even small scale automotive testing over a wide range of flow conditions and Reynolds numbers.  In addition to high precision balance data for these tests, the PIV system also provides highly accurate, quantitative flow visualisation capabilities of the air flow around the test articles, providing engineers with an in-depth understanding of the flow physics.

Picture of Smoke Flow visualisation downstream of a bluff body at Swansea University Wind Tunnel
Smoke Flow visualisation downstream of a bluff body at Swansea University Wind Tunnel

The tunnel has helped enable the College of Engineering to build on an extensive research reputation, by combining world-class academic talent with state-of-the-art equipment, to produce high-quality research and develop new products and production methods within the aerospace sector.

We are currently working with Vestas.

Vestas is the world’s largest Wind Turbine Manufacturer with €10 Billion revenue in 2017.  The company’s UK department focuses on the design, manufacturing, installation and service of wind turbines for the offshore wind industry.

The company aims to drive down the cost of energy from offshore wind parks by driving capital and operating savings and increasing output of wind turbines by bringing the best technology to the market.

The aim of our collaboration with Vestas is to develop an innovative flow control device for Wind Turbine airfoils: Innovative Flow Control for Flatback Airfoils.  The shape of a turbine blade is similar to an airplane wing – with the use of an airfoil design.  Typically, in an airfoil, one surface of the blade is rounded, while the other is relatively flat.   A high lift-to-drag ratio is essential in designing an efficient turbine blade and this new device will help with flow control.

Wind Tunnel Lab at The College of Engineering

Ultimately, a proposed best design for the new device will aim to increase large offshore wind turbine performance with the overall intention of reducing the levelized cost of energy.  The mutual benefits of this collaborative research project mean that the new design could lead to further products, such as the possibility of retro-fit equipment for wind turbines.

A final report for the project will be due in October 2019 with the latest developments being presented at the Wind Energy Science Conference in Cork, Ireland on 17th – 20th June 2019.

Dr Marinos Manolesos

For more information contact Dr Marinos Manolesos: Marinos.Manolesos@Swansea.ac.uk

Welsh translation coming soon

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