Three-dimensional viscous-inviscid coupling method for wind turbine computations

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In this paper, a computational model for predicting the aerodynamic behavior of wind turbine wakes and blades subjected to unsteady motions and viscous effects is presented. The model is based on a three-dimensional panel method using a surface distribution of quadrilateral sources and doublets, which is coupled to a viscous boundary layer solver. Unlike Navier-Stokes codes that need to solve the entire flow domain, the panel method solves the flow around a complex geometry by distributing singularity elements on the body surface, obtaining a faster solution and making this type of codes suitable for the design of wind turbines. A free-wake model has been employed to simulate the wake behind a wind turbine by using vortex filaments that carry the vorticity shed by the trailing edge of the blades. Viscous and rotational effects inside the boundary layer are taken into account via the transpiration velocity concept, applied using strip theory with the cross sectional angle of attack as coupling parameter. The transpiration velocity is obtained from the solution of the integral boundary layer equations with extension for rotational effects. It is found that viscosity plays a very important role in the predictions of blade aerodynamics and wake dynamics, especially at high angles of attack just before and after boundary layer separation takes place. The present code is validated in detail against the well-known MEXICO experiment and a set of non-rotating cases. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWind Energy
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)67–93
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Panel method
  • Free wake
  • Viscous-inviscid interaction
  • Integral boundary layer
  • Wind turbine


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