ExaWind: Open-Source CFD for Hybrid-RANS/LES Geometry-Resolved Wind Turbine Simulations in Atmospheric Flows

Ashesh Sharma, Michael Brazell, Ganesh Vijayakumar, Shreyas Ananthan, Lawrence Cheung, Nathaniel deVelder, Marc Henry de Frahan, Neil Matula, Paul Mullowney, Jon Rood, Philip Sakievich, Ann Almgren, Paul Crozier, Michael Sprague

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Predictive high-fidelity modeling of wind turbines with computational fluid dynamics, wherein turbine geometry is resolved in an atmospheric boundary layer, is important to understanding complex flow accounting for design strategies and operational phenomena such as blade erosion, pitch-control, stall/vortex-induced vibrations, and aftermarket add-ons. The biggest challenge with high-fidelity modeling is the realization of numerical algorithms that can capture the relevant physics in detail through effective use of high-performance computing. For modern supercomputers, that means relying on GPUs for acceleration. In this paper, we present ExaWind, a GPU-enabled open-source incompressible-flow hybrid-computational fluid dynamics framework, comprising the near-body unstructured grid solver Nalu-Wind, and the off-body block-structured-grid solver AMR-Wind, which are coupled using the Topology Independent Overset Grid Assembler. Turbine simulations employ either a pure Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes turbulence model or hybrid turbulence modeling wherein Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes is used for near-body flow and large eddy simulation is used for off-body flow. Being two-way coupled through overset grids, the two solvers enable simulation of flows across a huge range of length scales, for example, 10 orders of magnitude going from O(um) boundary layers along the blades to O(10 km) across a wind farm. In this paper, we describe the numerical algorithms for geometry-resolved turbine simulations in atmospheric boundary layers using ExaWind. We present verification studies using canonical flow problems. Validation studies are presented using megawatt-scale turbines established in literature. Additionally presented are demonstration simulations of a small wind farm under atmospheric inflow with different stability states.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)225-257
Number of pages33
JournalWind Energy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-85849


  • atmospheric boundary layer
  • CFD
  • geometry-resolved
  • overset grids
  • wind turbine


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