Tidal stream turbines (TSTs) produce a rotating downstream wake. This paper describes the characteristics of the swirl flow in the wake of a TST with a view of comparing these against classical swirl theory and investigating whether swirl is an important factor in wake recovery prediction.
Using computational fluid dynamics the paper describes the characteristics of velocities, pressure drop, viscosity and swirl number of 2, 3 and 4 bladed TSTs. To provide confidence in the results the characteristics are compared to the findings in the literature for a set of generic swirl generators. The swirl numbers for the TSTs in a 3.08 m/s tidal (plug) flow were found to be between 0.14 and 0.28, which describes a weak or very weak swirl flow. Whilst the characteristics are in agreement with theory it also means that the swirl component of the wake is not coupled with the axial component and cannot be used to estimate the wake length. However, peak swirl number for the 4 bladed turbine is close to the threshold of 0.3 at which axial velocity starts to become coupled with tangential velocity and therefore wake recovery may be related to S for some turbine designs.