Aeroelastic Tailoring of Wind Turbine Rotors Using High-Fidelity Multidisciplinary Design Optimization

Marco Mangano, Sicheng He, Yingqian Liao, Denis-Gabriel Caprace, Andrew Ning, Joaquim Martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Reducing the cost of energy from wind power is a critical step towards decarbonizing the electric grid and mitigating climate change effects. Computational models are crucial in understanding the complex, multiphysics interactions of modern, highly flexible wind turbine rotors. When coupled with numerical optimization, such models provide an efficient way to explore the design space. We propose a high-fidelity aerostructural framework that couples computational fluid dynamics with 5 computational structural mechanics to analyze and optimize wind turbines. The framework uses a gradient-based optimization strategy with gradients efficiently computed using a coupled-adjoint approach. We optimize a benchmark utility-scale wind turbine rotor and explore its trade-offs between steady-state aerodynamic efficiency and structural weight. The optimizations account for a representative below-rated operating condition and use more than 100 structural and geometric design variables. The monolithic approach we propose is compared with a loosely-coupled optimization strategy used for the structural sizing 10 of the baseline rotor layout. We then discuss specific optimized blade features and a broader design trade space exploration between extracted torque and rotor mass. Optimized layouts increase the torque by up to 14% and reduce the mass by up to 9% or reduce the mass by up to 27% with the same torque output compared to the baseline blade. The results demonstrate the benefits of optimizing a tightly-coupled aerostructural model and reveal additional insights that high-fidelity analysis provide to complement conventional design approaches.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages33
JournalWind Energy Science Discussions
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-85450


  • adjoint
  • aeroelastic
  • aerostructural
  • blade design
  • CFD
  • FEA
  • high fidelity
  • multidisciplinary optimization
  • wind turbine


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