PhD Proposal by Giada Abate

Ph.D. Thesis Proposal




Giada Abate

(Advisor: Prof. Dimitri N. Mavris)

9:00 AM, Monday, March 27, 2017

Weber Space Science and Technology Building (SST-II)

Collaborative Visualization Environment (CoVE)





Complicated environmental effects such as atmospheric turbulence, ground boundary layer, variation of free-stream wind direction and amplitude, affect wind turbine performance. Since the main goal of a wind turbine is the production of energy, the irregular nature of the wind is considered the main problem to obtain a constant power output. Variability in the power production happens under off-design conditions (e.g. high wind speed), when the blade can be partially or totally in stall; sinusoidal modifications (tubercles) of the wind turbine blade leading edge could be a solution to this problem. Previous research demonstrated that leading edge tubercles delay flow separation and improve the aerodynamic performance in the post-stall regime. The advantages of tubercle application were discovered studying the Humpback Whale swimming behavior; the great agility of this big animal in capturing preys is due to the presence of tubercles on the leading edge of its flippers. Multiple research tried to understand the physical phenomenon behind those leading edge bumps, comparing them to vortex generators: tubercles produce counter-rotating vortices, which delay the separation of the flow due to a re-energization of the boundary layer over the surface.

The proposed research wants to analyze the performance enhancements of the NREL Phase VI wind turbine blade with tubercles on the leading edge, and in particular, it wants to identify design rules for tubercle application such that best performance and highest power produced can be achieved.

Three-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations of the NREL Phase VI wind turbine blade with different tubercle configurations will be run to analyze the influence on the performance of amplitude and wavelength of tubercles and their location along the blade span. A data analysis strategy will be used to identify the design rules, and then an optimization process will be conducted to find the best tubercle configuration, which permits to achieve the highest performance in terms of annual energy production of the NREL Phase VI wind turbine.


Committee Members:

Prof. Dimitri N. Mavris (Advisor)

Prof. Brian German (AE)

Prof. Lakshmi Sankar (AE)   


Event Details


  • Monday, March 27, 2017
    9:00 am - 11:00 am
Location: Weber Space Science and Technology Building (SST-II)