Research

Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines

Vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWT) are an alternative to traditional wind turbine designs. Unlike their more common cousins, VAWTs rotate about a vertical axis and are omni-directional, meaning that they do not have to be pointed into the wind to produce power. While their size allows VAWTs to be packed much closer to one another than traditional turbines, a clear understanding of the flow around the turbines is needed in order to place the turbines for effective and efficient operation. The images above show the complicated and turbulent wake of a three-bladed VAWT when stationary (top) or rotating (bottom). The flow is visualized using a gravity-driven soap film (flowing left to right in the images) pierced by a model VAWT (seen at the left). The wakes contain many scales from simple, periodically-shed vortices off a blade to very large-scale vortical structures forming downstream of the turbine. This work originally appeared as a poster in the Gallery of Fluid Motion at the 2014 APS DFD Annual Meeting. (Image credit: D. Araya and J. Dabiri)

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