CFD modeling of center cones, vortex breakers and pressure relief slits in a wind speed accelerator

by Lucas, Michael D., M.Eng., UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE, 2011, 78 pages; 1504202


Wind power has the potential to provide access to electricity to areas lacking the resources to create industrial power plants, as well as supplement residential energy supplies. The low resource investment and ease of installation make it ideal for these scenarios; however, it is limited by the availability of a stable power source. Only 13% of the world’s land area experiences wind speeds high enough to be usable by current technology. To improve this percentage, the use of wind concentrators has been suggested. A turbine within a concentrator would experience a higher wind speed than the surrounding body of air, reducing the ambient wind speed requirement to generate electricity. In this thesis, several concentrator designs were tested. In this thesis, several designs of the following concentrator components were tested: a flow straightener, vortex breaker, and pressure relief slits.

Fluent 12.1, a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) program, was used to model air flow patterns through a prototype wind concentrator and optimize its performance. Through this method, it was determined that a concentrator with a trumpet shaped entrance and exit is effective at concentrating wind energy. A long, thin center cone was most effective at accelerating a wind stream, while vortex breakers were ineffective. Maximum velocities were obtained with the addition of pressure-relief slits in the inlet portion. With an ambient inlet air stream of 2 m/s, CFD results predicted the concentrator would accelerate the air velocity to 5.17 m/s. The concentrator also predicted similar accelerations at higher inlet velocities. This data was validated by results provided by WEST Wind Power Inc. Their prototype, built from the optimized model’s blueprints, observed wind speeds in the device throat within 8% of the predicted values.

AdviserJames Watters
Source TypeThesis
SubjectsChemical engineering; Mechanical engineering
Publication Number1504202

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