Design of advanced airfoil for stall-regulated wind turbines
Nowadays, all the modern megawatt-class wind turbines make use of pitch control to optimise the rotor performance and control the turbine. However, for kilowatt-range machines, stall-regulated solutions are still attractive and largely used for their simplicity and robustness. In the design phase, the aerodynamics plays a crucial role, especially concerning the selection/design of the necessary airfoils. This is because the airfoil performance is supposed to guarantee high wind turbine performance but also the necessary machine control capabilities. In the present work, the design of a new airfoil dedicated to stall machines is discussed. The design strategy makes use of a numerical optimisation scheme, where a gradient-based algorithm is coupled with the RFOIL code and an original Bezier-curves-based parameterisation to describe the airfoil shape. The performances of the new airfoil are compared in free- and fixed-transition conditions. In addition, the performance of the rotor is analysed, comparing the impact of the new geometry with alternative candidates. The results show that the new airfoil offers better performance and control than existing candidates do.