This paper describes a computer method to allow the design of small wind turbine blades for the multiple objectives of rapid starting, efficient power extraction, low noise, and minimal mass. For the sake of brevity, only the first two and the last objectives are considered in this paper. The optimization aimed to study a range of blade materials, from traditional fibreglass through sustainable alternatives to rapid prototyping plastic. Because starting performance depends on blade inertia, there is a complex interaction between the material properties and the aerodynamics. Example blades of 1.1 m length were designed to match a permanent magnet generator with a rated power of 750 W at 550 rpm. The materials considered were (a) traditional E-glass and polyester resin; (b) flax and polyester resin; (c) a typical rapid prototyping plastic, ABS-M30; and (d) timber. Except for (d), hollow blades were used to reduce the rotor inertia to help minimize starting time. Two airfoils are considered: the 10% thick SG6043 which has excellent lift:drag performance at low Reynolds number and the SD7062 whose extra thickness (14%) has some structural advantages, particularly for the weaker material (c). All blade materials gave feasible designs with material (d) the only one that required a blade shell thickness greater than the specified minimum value of 1% of the blade chord. Generally, the blade chord and twist increased as starting was given greater importance. In all cases, the associated increase in blade inertia was outweighed by the larger aerodynamic torque. Materials (a), (b), and (d) were better suited to the SG6043 airfoil whereas ABS-M30 benefitted from the thicker SD7062 section.
Bibliographical note© 2015 Sessarego and Wood. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.
- Small wind turbines
- Blade design
- Multi-dimensional optimization
- Starting performance