Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Ryoichi S. Amano


Aerodynamics, Airfoil, Design of Experiment, Slot, Turbulence, Wind Turbine


Because of the problems associated with increase of greenhouse gases, as well as the limited supplies of fossil fuels, the transition to alternate, clean, renewable sources of energy is inevitable. Renewable sources of energy can be used to decrease our need for fossil fuels, thus reducing impact to humans, other species and their habitats. The wind is one of the cleanest forms of energy, and it can be an excellent candidate for producing electrical energy in a more sustainable manner. Vertical- and Horizontal-Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT and HAWT) are two common devices used for harvesting electrical energy from the wind.

Due to the development of a thin boundary layer over the ground surface, the modern commercial wind turbines have to be relatively large to be cost-effective. Because of the high manufacturing and transportation costs of the wind turbine components, it is necessary to evaluate the design and predict the performance of the turbine prior to shipping it to the site, where it is to be installed. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has proven to be a simple, cheap and yet relatively accurate tool for prediction of wind turbine performance, where the suitability of different designs can be evaluated at a low cost. High accuracy simulation methods such as Large Eddy Simulation (LES) and Detached Eddy Simulation (DES) are developed and utilized in the past decades. Despite their superior importance in large fluid domains, they fail to make very accurate predictions near the solid surfaces. Therefore, in the present effort, the possibility of improving near-wall predictions of CFD simulations in the near-wall region by using a modified turbulence model is also thoroughly investigated. Algebraic Stress Model (ASM) is employed in conjunction with Detached Eddy Simulation (DES) to improve Reynolds stresses components, and consequently predictions of the near-wall velocities and surface pressure distributions. The proposed model shows a slightly better performance as compared to the baseline DES.

In the second part of this study, the focus is on improving the aerodynamic performance of airfoils and wind turbines in terms of lift and drag coefficients and power generation. One special type of add-on feature for wind turbines and airfoils, i.e., leading-edge slots are investigated through numerical simulation and laboratory experiments. Although similar slots are designed and employed for aircrafts, a special slot with a reversed flow direction is drilled in the leading edge of a sample wind turbine airfoil to study its influence on the aerodynamic performance.

The objective is to vary the five main geometrical parameters of slot and characterize the performance improvement of the new design under different operating conditions. A number of Design of Experiment and optimization studies are conducted to determine the most suitable slot configuration to maximize the lift or lift-over-drag ratio. Results indicate that proper sizing and placement of slot can improve the lift coefficient, while it has negligible negative impact on the drag. Some recommendations for future investigation on slot are proposed at the end. The performance of a horizontal axis wind turbine blade equipped with leading-edge slot is also studied, and it is concluded that slotted blades can generate about 10% more power than solid blades, for the two operating conditions investigated. The good agreement between the CFD predictions and experimental data confirms the validity of the model and results.