Large-Eddy Simulation of Helical- and Straight-Bladed Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines in Boundary Layer Turbulence

Masoumeh Gharaati, Shuolin Xiao, Nathaniel Wei, Luis Martinez-Tossas, John Dabiri, Di Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus Citations


Turbulent wake flows behind helical- and straight-bladed vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) in boundary layer turbulence are numerically studied using the large-eddy simulation (LES) method combined with the actuator line model. Based on the LES data, systematic statistical analyses are performed to explore the effects of blade geometry on the characteristics of the turbine wake. The time-averaged velocity fields show that the helical-bladed VAWT generates a mean vertical velocity along the center of the turbine wake, which causes a vertical inclination of the turbine wake and alters the vertical gradient of the mean streamwise velocity. Consequently, the intensities of the turbulent fluctuations and Reynolds shear stresses are also affected by the helical-shaped blades when compared with those in the straight-bladed VAWT case. The LES results also show that reversing the twist direction of the helical-bladed VAWT causes the spatial patterns of the turbulent wake flow statistics to be reversed in the vertical direction. Moreover, the mass and kinetic energy transports in the turbine wakes are directly visualized using the transport tube method, and the comparison between the helical- and straight-bladed VAWT cases show significant differences in the downstream evolution of the transport tubes.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number053301
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Author(s).

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-83620


  • actuator line
  • LES
  • vertical axis


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