Scaled-resolved fluid-structure interaction
of large wind turbines

Recent wind turbines blades are becoming more slender and flexible, resulting in increased aero-elastic effects. The goal of this research project is to study those effects in unsteady wind conditions using computer simulations. The results of the simulations are then used to optimize the blade structure in order to extend their lifetime.

In recent years, there has been a clear trend in enlarging the wind turbines to increase their power extraction. The rotor blades are more slender and manufactured using lightweight composite materials which adds to the blade flexibility. Therefore, those new designs are more likely to exhibit aero-elastic effects. Those effects can decrease the power extraction, but can also be used to reduce the fatigue loads. Due to their complexity, their study requires high-fidelity numerical simulations.


This project aims at developing numerical simulation tools that can represent wind turbines in realistic unsteady wind conditions. The wind is accurately represented using Large Eddy Simulations (LES) and the flexible blades are modelled by an extended actuator line method that is also coupled to a structural solver.

Those tools can then be used to better understand the unsteady aero-elastic effects undergone by the wind turbine. It sheds a light on how the power production and the load distribution are affected by the wind turbulence and the blade flexibility. Then, the structural parameters are optimized to increase the power extraction and decrease the alternating loads on the blade.


In summary, the goal of the research is to develop high fidelity numerical tools that allow for the study of aero-elastic effects on large wind turbines. This will support the effort of further increasing the turbine efficiency by upscaling their size, and will provide insights on how the design should be adapted to maximize the turbine lifetime and power extraction.

François Trigaux
Academic promoter:
Prof. Grégoire Winckelmans (UCLouvain)
Prof. Joris Degroote (UGent)