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Open Access Original research

Wind tunnel testing and numerical simulation on aerodynamic performance of a three-bladed Savonius wind turbine

Khandakar Niaz Morshed1, Mosfequr Rahman2*, Gustavo Molina2 and Mahbub Ahmed3

Author Affiliations

1 Mechanical Engineering Department, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 80523, USA

2 Mechanical Engineering Department, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, 30460, USA

3 Biochemistry, Chemistry & Physics, Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia, AR, 71753, USA

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International Journal of Energy and Environmental Engineering 2013, 4:18  doi:10.1186/2251-6832-4-18

Published: 18 April 2013

Abstract

The purpose of this research work is to investigate experimentally and computationally the feasibility of improving the performance of the vertical-axis Savonius wind turbine. The authors first performed a series of wind tunnel investigations on semi-cylindrical three-bladed Savonius rotor scale models with different overlap ratios and without overlap. These experiments were conducted in front of a low-speed subsonic wind tunnel at different Reynolds numbers. Pressures around the concave and convex surfaces of each blade, as well as the static torque for the rotor models, were measured. Using these experimental data, the authors calculated aerodynamic characteristics such as drag coefficients, static torque coefficients, and power coefficients. The authors then performed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations using the commercial CFD software FLUENT and GAMBIT to analyze the static rotor aerodynamics of those models. The experimental and computational results were then compared for verification. Three different models with different overlap ratios were designed and fabricated for the current study to find the effect of overlap ratios. The results from the experimental part of the research show a significant effect of overlap ratio and Reynolds number on the improvement of aerodynamic performance of the Savonius wind turbine. At higher Reynolds number, the turbine model without overlap ratio gives better aerodynamic coefficients, and at lower Reynolds number, the model with moderate overlap ratio gives better results.

Keywords:
Savonius wind turbine; Aerodynamic performance; Torque coefficient; Power coefficient; Angle of rotation; Overlap ratio