Plasma Flow Control

Plasma Flow Control for Wind Turbines

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Funding source: Office of Naval Research
Project objective: Develop and evaluate a plasma flow control system for large-scale wind turbines and demonstrate significant improvements in energy capture

Many of the challenges associated with reducing the Cost of Energy (CoE) generated by wind farms can be addressed by implementing active control of the blade aerodynamics.

Plasma actuators hold significant promise for a robust, efficient, and effective means of blade control, and when implemented, result in improved aerodynamic performance and reduced aeroelastic vibration.

Plasma flow control-2 (Source: Navatek)

Active flow control on the blades will enable lighter, more flexible blade design and will provide new opportunities for advanced rotor configurations such as two-bladed downwind rotors.

The ability to build lighter, more flexible blades could lead to lower capital costs and increased feasible diameters which in turn lead to increased energy output per dollar spent on capital and maintenance costs.

Plasma flow control-1 (Source: Navatek)

(Photos courtesy of Navatek)

Wind tunnel experiments (left) show the mitigation of stall using Navatek’s plasma actuators. When implemented on the company’s VP20 wind turbine (right), the net gain in energy capture projected over a one-year period exceeds 10%.

The goal of this three-phase program is to develop and test a plasma flow control system for wind turbines.

A prototype system has been developed and tested on Navatek’s 20 kW wind turbine, one of two that are mounted on the company’s dry dock at Pier 41 in Honolulu. To date, the company has made significant advances in the materials and manufacturing process, all while completing a preliminary demonstration that projects a net gain in energy capture of greater than 10% over a one-year period.

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