Improved blade element momentum theory for wind turbine aerodynamic computations

Zhenye Sun, Jin Chen, Wen Zhong Shen, Wei Jun Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Blade element momentum (BEM) theory is widely used in aerodynamic performance predictions and design applications for wind turbines. However, the classic BEM method is not quite accurate which often tends to under-predict the aerodynamic forces near root and over-predict its performance near tip. The reliability of the aerodynamic calculations and design optimizations is greatly reduced due to this problem. To improve the momentum theory, in this paper the influence of pressure drop due to wake rotation and the effect of radial velocity at the rotor disc in the momentum theory are considered. Thus the axial induction factor in far downstream is not simply twice of the induction factor at disc. To calculate the performance of wind turbine rotors, the improved momentum theory is considered together with both Glauert's tip correction and Shen's tip correction. Numerical tests have been performed for the MEXICO rotor. Results show that the improved BEM theory gives a better prediction than the classic BEM method, especially in the blade tip region, when comparing to the MEXICO measurements. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRenewable Energy
Pages (from-to)824-831
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Blade element momentum theory
  • Radial flow
  • Wake rotation
  • Wind turbine
  • Aerodynamics
  • Boundary element method
  • Forecasting
  • Momentum
  • Turbomachine blades
  • Wakes
  • Wind turbines
  • Aerodynamic performance predictions
  • Blade-element momentums
  • Design applications
  • Design optimization
  • Wind turbine aerodynamics
  • Wind turbine rotors
  • Turbine components

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