A Gravo-Aeroelastically Scaled Wind Turbine Rotor at Field-Prototype Scale with Strict Structural Requirements

Shulong Yao, D. Griffith, Mayank Chetan, Christopher Bay, Rick Damiani, Meghan Kaminski, Eric Loth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus Citations


A new sub-scale field-prototype design solution is developed to realize the dynamics, structural response, and distributed loads (gravitational, aerodynamic, centrifugal) that are characteristic of a full-scale large, modern wind turbine rotor. Prior work in sub-scale wind turbine testing has focused on matching aerodynamic/aero-elastic characteristics of full-scale rotors at wind tunnel scale. However, large-scale rotor designs must expand beyond this limited set of scaling parameters for cost-effective prototyping and meet strict requirements for structural safety for field testing. The challenge lies in producing a structural design meeting two competing objectives: novel scaling objectives that prescribe the sub-scale blade to have low mass and stiffness; and traditional structural safety objectives that drive the design to have higher stiffness and mass. A 20% gravo-aeroelastically scaled wind turbine blade is developed successfully that satisfies these competing objectives. First, it achieved close agreement for non-dimensional tip deflection and flap-wise blade frequency (both within 2.1%) with a blade mass distribution constrained to produce target gravitational and centrifugal loads. Second, the entire blade structure was optimized to ensure a safe, manufacturable solution meeting strict strength requirements for a testing site that can experience up to 45 m/s wind gusts. The prototype-scale blade was fabricated and successfully proof-load tested.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)535-547
Number of pages13
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-76563


  • Field testing
  • Structural safety requirements
  • Sub-scale testing
  • Wind turbine rotor design


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