Tip Vortex

Smoke released from the end of a test blade shows the helical pattern of a tip vortex from a horizontal-axis wind turbine. Like airplane wings, wind turbine blades generate a vortex in their wake, and the vortices from each blade can interact downstream as seen in this video. These intricate wakes complicate wind turbine placement for wind farms. A turbine located downstream of one of its fellows not only has a decreased power output but also has higher fatigue loads than the upstream neighbor. In other words, the downstream turbine produces less power and will wear out sooner. Researchers visualize, measure, and simulate turbine wakes and their interactions to find ways of maximizing the wind power generated. (Photo credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

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