Towing Tank and Flume Testing of Passively Adaptive Composite Tidal Turbine Blades: Preprint

Robynne Murray, Stephanie Ordonez-Sanchez, Kate Porter, Cameron Johnstone, Darrel Doman, Michael Pegg

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Composite tidal turbine blades with bend-twist (BT) coupled layups allow the blade to self-adapt to local site conditions by passively twisting. Passive feathering has the potential to increase annual energy production and shed thrust loads and power under extreme tidal flows. Decreased hydrodynamic thrust and power during extreme conditions meann that the turbine support structure, generator, and other components can be sized more appropriately, resulting in a higher utilization factor and increased cost effectiveness. This paper presents new experimental data for a small-scale turbine with BT composite blades. The research team tested the turbine in the Kelvin Hydrodynamics Laboratory towing tank at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, United Kingdom, and in the recirculating current flume at the l Institut Francais de Recherche pour l Exploitation de la Mer Centre in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. Tests were also performed on rigid aluminum blades with identical geometry, which yielded baseline test sets for comparison. The results from both facilities agreed closely, supporting the hypothesis that increased blade flexibility can induce load reductions. Under the most extreme conditions tested the turbine with BT blades had up to 11 percent lower peak thrust loads and a 15 percent reduction in peak power compared to the turbine with rigid blades. The load reductions varied as a function of turbine rotational velocity and ambient flow velocity.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2017
EventEuropean Wave and Tidal Energy Conference - Cork, Ireland
Duration: 27 Aug 20172 Sep 2017


ConferenceEuropean Wave and Tidal Energy Conference
CityCork, Ireland

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5000-68107


  • bend-twist coupling
  • composite materials
  • flume testing
  • load reductions
  • nrel
  • towing tank testing


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