Increasing tidal turbine performance through innovation is crucial if the cost of tidal energy is to become competitive compared to other sources of energy. The present investigation deals with the application of Vortex Generators (VGs) on tidal turbines in view of increasing their performance. The more mature wind energy industry uses passive VGs either as a retrofit or in the blade design process to reduce separation at the inboard part of wind turbine blades. Tidal turbine blades also experience flow separation and here we examine whether passive vane VGs can be used to reduce or suppress that separated flow.
Vortex generators (VGs) in various forms have been used and studied for flow separation control on wings since the 1940s . Their working principle is relatively simple: they generate streamwise vortices that energise the boundary layer on the surface they are attached to, by bringing high momentum fluid closer to the surface . This mechanism has been described by various researchers [3–6], while a number of studies have provided optimization guidelines under a variety of flow conditions [7–13].
In the present investigation, a VG configuration is selected following a thorough wind tunnel campaign. It is found that sizing parameters for the tidal turbine profile are very similar to the wind turbine relevant literature [13,14]. The best performing vane VG configuration had a height of 0.007c, which corresponded to half the local boundary layer height (0.5δ) for operational Reynolds numbers. The results are also used to validate a Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes (RANS) VG modelling approach using the BAY model . The validated method is used to simulate the flow past a tidal turbine in both model size (1:8) and full scale, see Figure 1. The results show that VGs do suppress flow separation in both cases. However, and importantly, it is revealed that the significance of rotational effects is such that when deciding VG placement locations, only the full size blade should be considered. In the interest of brevity, the performance increase caused by a standard VG configuration is show in Figure 2, where a power coefficient improvement of 1.05% is predicted at λ=3. Figure 3 shows the effect on the normal and tangential forces on the blade. In the final paper and presentation, the results for different VG locations will be included and analysed in detail.