Superposition of vortex cylinders for steady and unsteady simulation of rotors of finite tip-speed ratio

Emmanuel Simon Pierre Branlard, Mac Gaunaa

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Joukowski introduced in 1912 a helical vortex model to represent the vorticity of a rotor and its wake. For an infinite number of blades but finite tip-speed ratio, the model consists of a vortex cylinder of longitudinal and tangential vorticity, a root vortex and a bound vortex disk. A superposition of cylinders is used in this paper to model rotors of radially varying circulation. The relations required to form a consistent system of cylinders are derived. The model contains a term which is not accounted for in the standard blade element momentum (BEM) algorithm. This term is identified as the contribution from the pressure drop due to the wake rotation. The BEM algorithm can be corrected to account for this effect. Unlike previous work on the topic, the contribution is derived for a radially varying circulation. A high-thrust correction is also presented to extend the model. The optimal power coefficient obtained with this model for the constant circulation rotor is assessed and compared with that of existing solutions. Results from prescribed thrust distributions are compared with that of actuator disk simulations. Steady simulations are performed to compare with the BEM algorithm. The model is also applied to compute the velocity field in the entire domain and perform unsteady simulations. Results for an unsteady simulation corresponding to a pitch change of the rotor is used to compare the model with measurements and a BEM code with a dynamic inflow model. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalWind Energy
    Issue number7
    Pages (from-to)1307-1323
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • Vortex cylinder
    • Actuator disk
    • Finite tip-speed ratio
    • Wake rotation
    • BEM code
    • Wind turbine aerodynamics


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