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Genetic Algorithm-Based Design of Airfoil for the Root Region of Small Wind Turbines and Performance Analysis With Gurney Flaps

[+] Author Affiliations
Mohammed Rafiuddin Ahmed, Krishnil R. Ram

University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Bum-Suk Kim

Jeju National University, Jeju, South Korea

Sunil P. Lal

Massey University, Palmerston, New Zealand

Paper No. IMECE2018-87327, pp. V007T09A087; 9 pages
  • ASME 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 7: Fluids Engineering
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, November 9–15, 2018
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5210-1
  • Copyright © 2018 by ASME


The root region of small wind turbines experience low Reynolds number (Re) flow that makes it difficult to design airfoils that provide good aerodynamic performance and at the same time, provide structural strength. In the present work, a multi-objective genetic algorithm code was used to design airfoils that are suitable for the root region of small wind turbines. A composite Bezier curve with two Bezier segments and 16 control points (11 of them controlled) was used to parametrize the airfoil problem. Geometric constraints including suitable curvature conditions were enforced to maintain the airfoil thickness between 18% and 22% of chord and a trailing edge thickness of 3% of chord. The objectives were to maximize the lift-to-drag ratio for both clean and soiled conditions. Optimization was done by coupling the flow solver to a genetic algorithm code written in C++, at Re = 200,000 and for angles of attack of 4 and 10 degrees, as the algorithm was found to give smooth variation of lift-to-drag ratio within such a range. The best airfoil from the results was tested in the wind tunnel as well as using ANSYS-CFX. The experimental airfoil had a chord length of 75 mm and was provided with 33 pressure taps. Testing was done for both free and forced transition cases. The airfoil gave the highest lift-to-drag ratio at an angle of 6 degrees with the ratio varying very little between 4 degrees and 8 degrees. Forced transition at 8% of chord did not show significant change in the performance indicating that the airfoil will perform well even in soiled condition. Fixed trailing edge flaps (Gurney flaps) were provided right at the trailing edge on the lower surface. The lift and drag behavior of the airfoil was then studied with Gurney Flaps of 2% and 3% heights, as it was found from previous studies that flap heights of 1% or greater than 3% do not give optimum results. The flaps considerably improved the suction on the upper surface and also improved the pressure on the lower surface, resulting in a higher lift coefficient; at the same time, there was also an increase in the drag coefficient but it was less compared to the increase in the lift coefficient. The results indicate that Gurney flaps can be effectively used to improve the performance of thick trailing edge airfoils designed for the root region of small wind turbines.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME



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