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Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 3556


www.elsevier.com/locate/renene

On the aerodynamics of variable-geometry


oval-trajectory Darrieus wind turbines
F.L. Pontaa,, J.J. Seminaraa,b, A.D. Oteroa
a

College of Engineering, University of Buenos Aires, Paseo Colon 850, Buenos Aires C1063ACV, Argentina
b
Department of Mechanics and Aeronautics, University of Rome - La Sapienza, Via Eudossiana 18,
Rome 00184, Italy
Received 5 October 2005; accepted 14 December 2005
Available online 9 March 2006

Abstract
A new computational model for the aerodynamics of vertical-axis wind turbines is introduced. It is
based on the double-multiple streamtube concept and it incorporates the capacity of dealing with
rotors whose blades follow oval-trajectories at variable setting-angles. We applied this model to the
study of the aerodynamics of an innovative concept in extra-large wind-power plants: the VGOT
(variable-geometry oval-trajectory) Darrieus wind turbine. Due to the especial geometric
characteristics of the VGOT Darrieus, it was necessary to propose three new non-dimensional
parameters to quantify its performance under different wind-conditions: the equivalent power
coefcient, the equivalent solidity coefcient and the trajectory efciency. We show some numerical
results testing several rotor congurations working under different wind scenarios.
r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Innovative concepts; Vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT); VAWT aerodynamics; Darrieus rotors;
Double-multiple streamtube model

1. Introduction
Wind-power is the worlds fastest-growing energy source, with installations increasing
by about 30% a year. It is renewable, it does not pollute while in operation, it entails no
future liabilities associated with the decommission of obsolete plants, it lends itself to dual
land use with agriculture, natural habitats, or human residence, and, perhaps most
Corresponding author. Tel.: +54 11 4343 0891; fax: +54 11 4343 0365.

E-mail address: fponta@.uba.ar (F.L. Ponta).


0960-1481/$ - see front matter r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.renene.2005.12.007

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36

important, it is ideally suitable to produce hydrogen as a substitute fuel. It is a fact that due
to economics-of-scale reasons cost effectiveness of wind-turbines increases with size.
During the last 25 years the size of the state-of-the-art wind machine has been increasing
systematically but the actual technology of horizontal-axis wind turbines would ultimately
reach its limits. Very large sizes would create a number of gigantism problems in rotor
design, and the low rotational speed associated with large radii would complicate the
coupling with the electrical generator. Besides, there are geographical regions (like
Patagonia in Argentina) characterized by a vast wind resource. Mean speeds in some areas
almost double those recorded at the European locations for which the commercially
available high-power wind-turbines were designed. As and example, Fig. 1 depicts the
wind-speed frequency chart for the region of Comodoro Rivadavia (and there are other
locations in Patagonia with even a greater potential). Regarding that the energy carried by
a wind stream depends on the cube of its speed, those regions offer an enormous potential
in terms of energy resources. Hence, it is worthwhile to explore innovative concepts in
extra-large wind-power plants to overcome the size limits of the actual wind-power
technology and being able to exploit the renewable energetic potential that high-windspeed regions offer. To this end, an innovative concept of wind turbine based on the
Darrieus-type rotor had been introduced [1].
In a traditional Darrieus turbine, the blades rotate around a central vertical axis. In the
variable-geometry oval-trajectory (VGOT) concept proposed in [1], each blade instead of
rotating around a central vertical axis, slides over rails mounted on a wagon formed by a
reticulated structure supported by standard train boogies (see Figs. 2 and 3). Each wagon
contains its own electrical generation system coupled to the power-wheels and the
electricity is collected by a classical third rail system [24]. With the VGOT design, if we
kept constant the velocity of the wagons (i.e. the tangential speed of the blades), we can
increase the area swept by the blades (and hence the rated-power of the plant) without the
low-rotational-speed problems associated to a classical Darrieus rotor of large diameter.

20
18
16

Frequency (%)

14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
0

10

15
20
Wind Speed (m/s)

25

30

35

Fig. 1. Wind-speed frequency chart for the region of Comodoro Rivadavia, Patagonia, Argentina.

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Fig. 2. Perspective view of a blade-wagon.

Fig. 3. Structural conguration of a blade-wagon showing boogies, suspension system and the electrical
generators coupled to their driving wheels.

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2. The oval trajectory


The blade-wagon elements of a VGOT Darrieus, not being solidly afxed to a central
axis, could move following a non-circular trajectory (see Fig. 4). For certain locations
where the compass rose shows a preferential bearing it is possible to optimize the energyconversion efciency of the entire plant by increasing the portion of transit perpendicular
to the bearing of the incoming wind. Along the perpendicular tracks, the blade generates
the higher output-power, while along the portions where the trajectory is in-line with the
incoming wind the blade-wagon not only does not produce energy but also even consumes
it taking power from the rest of the plant to keep on moving. Thus, extending those
portions of the path perpendicular to the wind by the addition of straight tracks the overall
energy-conversion efciency of the plant increases. This conguration also allows
increasing the area swept by the blades (which depends on the blade height and the
trajectory girth across the direction of the incoming wind), with a smaller increment in the
path length compared to a circular trajectory. It reduces investments in rails and blades to
get the same output-power. On the other hand, along these straight tracks the direction of
inow on the blades would remain practically constant, contributing to aerodynamic and
structural stability of the system. This situation is different from a traditional Darrieus
where the blades are subjected to an inow variable in both magnitude and angle of
incidence all along the path. The fact that the wind in Patagonia shows a strong WE
directionality makes it possible adopting an oval trajectory such as the one proposed. A
typical example may be seen in Fig. 5, where the compass rose for the region of Comodoro
Rivadavia is shown.

Wind
Direction
y
Vl

Vl

W
U

W
U

Fd
Fl

Fd
Fl

Fr

R
Fr

Vl

Fd
U
Fr

Fl
U

W
U

Vl

Vl

Fd

Fl
Fr

Fd
Fl

Fr

Fig. 4. Schematic view of the path followed by the blade-wagons of the VGOT Darrieus showing the velocity
composition of the incoming ow and the aerodynamic forces acting on the blades.

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NNW

N
50

NNE

40

NW

39

NE

30
WNW

20

ENE

10
W

WSW

ESE
SE

SW
SSW

SSE
S

Fig. 5. Compass-rose chart for the region of Comodoro Rivadavia, Patagonia, Argentina.

3. Technical features of the VGOT Darrieus


In our design, we looked for the use of normal railway material as much as possible.
Rails, sleepers, supporting wheels, and other mechanical devices are intended to be chosen
among the standards. As well as, electrical generators, third-rail electricity-collecting lines,
and other electrical devices are intended to be standard too. Besides, other stock pieces of
equipment could be adapted to our purposes and some other devices should be designed
specially.

3.1. Structure of the blade-wagons


When confronting the study of the structural behavior of the VGOT Darrieus we found
several particularities that distinguish it from another three-dimensional reticulated
structures. As we have mentioned above, each blade is mounted on a chassis supported by
standard train boogies and covered by a streamlined case designed to decrease
aerodynamic drag (see Fig. 2). The chassis is formed by a tubular reticulated structure
that should be designed to absorb the efforts in the vertical and traverse directions of the
railroad due to the aerodynamic loads, the weight of the components and the centrifugal
acceleration along the curved tracks. The effects of the link between the blade and the
suspension should be considered, together with the added mass effects of the components
and the ballast placed to improve the stability of the wagon. To this end, we developed a
special computer model to simulate the integral behavior of the reticulated structure, the
suspension and the blade itself. It involves several subroutines including a nite element
code to solve the three-dimensional beam reticulated assemble. Due to its complexity, this
code is treated comprehensively in a separated paper.

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F.L. Ponta et al. / Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 3556

3.2. Generation system


Each blade-wagon contains its own electrical generation system. The generators
are connected to the power-wheels by a gear transmission. The wheels are placed at the
middle of the front part of the chassis (see Fig. 3) and draw the power by the friction
of the wheels on a ground rail. For this device we propose a twin design based upon
a pair of oscillating-lever gearboxes coaxial with the electrical generators. This layout not
only drives the torque from the wheels to the electrical machines, but also adjusts the
rotational speed to perform a suitable mechanical coupling and keeps a uniform
distribution of the weight. The electricity generated is collected by a classical third rail
system.
3.3. Control
Another interesting feature of the VGOT concept is the relatively long time taken to
complete every cycle. It allows the use of a blade-positioning control system that operates
continuously during the cycle without the fatigue and mechanical-inertia problems
associated to variable-geometry attempts in classical Darrieus rotors. With the addition
of an orienting device, the blades could set themselves at an optimal angle with a
further increment in the energy-conversion efciency. Several components of this
control system could be taken directly from the standard technology used for nacelleorientation in classical horizontal-axis wind-turbines. The possibility of a bladepositioning control could help remarkably with the issue of controlling the speed of the
wagons and the distance between them, as well as it could act as an effective emergencyhalt system.
There are three alternative strategies for the combined generation and blade-positioning
system:
(1) To use asynchronous generators linking the blade-wagons electrically. The speed of
each generator is xed by the frequency of the electric line, and due to the steep torque/
rotational-speed characteristic curve of the asynchronous generator, it remains close to
the synchronous speed. The control system must keep the distance among the
generating elements, and also takes charge of the optimum positioning of the blades to
maximize the energy-conversion efciency.
(2) To use asynchronous generators but linking the blade-wagons mechanically. The speed
of the generator of the whole set of wagons is xed by the frequency of electric line and
it remains close to the synchronous speed. The control system takes charge only of the
optimum positioning of the blades to maximize efciency, working as speed-controller
only in case of an emergency.
(3) To use synchronous generators. In this case the speed of the wagons is variable and it is
adjusted with the position of the blade to optimize the conversion efciency in each
case according to the wind conditions. Here the control system must keep the distance
among the blade-wagons. Electricity must be converted to DC before transmission
through the common third-rail in order to avoid problems of lost of synchronicity
between the individual generators while they were adjusting their respective speeds
during normal operation.

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Fig. 6. Perspective view of the suspension system and cushioned-pin spherical joint that connects the
parallelogram to the boogie.

3.4. Suspension system


The suspension system deserves a separate mention. Given the particularities of this
application, it was necessary to conceive a non-conventional design. The blade-wagon is
subject to uctuating aerodynamic loads in the direction perpendicular to the rails. It
means that the suspension system should absorb not only the vertical oscillating loads due
to the weight and the irregularities of the rails, but also the cross-rail oscillations induced
by the uctuating aerodynamics. If these loads were transmitted directly to the boogies and
the rails, they would compromise the stability of the blade-wagon. The suspension must
also adapt itself to follow the imperfections and misalignments in the rails layout,
minimizing their effects on the structure and the components. To this end we propose a
design based upon a two-axis deformable parallelogram which actions in the lateral and
vertical directions by means of a set of spring-dashpot units (see Fig. 6). This device is
complemented with a special cushioned-pin spherical joint that connects the parallelogram
to the boogie. This joint allows limited motion in order to let the boogie adjust itself to the
eventual misalignments on the rails while its rubber cushion absorbs the inevitable
vibrations produced by the imperfections on the railroad.
4. Aerodynamic study of the VGOT Darrieus
The idea of mounting a blade on a wagon with the aim of generating electricity has been
proposed before (see for example Fig. 1.6, Section 1.1.3 in Ref. [5], among others), but with
the VGOT concept we intend to carry on a systematic study of the real feasibility of such a
design, being the analysis of the aerodynamics a fundamental step. When undertaking the

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F.L. Ponta et al. / Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 3556

study of the aerodynamic behavior of a VGOT Darrieus, several particularities arise that
make it different from other studies in vertical-axis wind-turbine aerodynamics. The
aerodynamic loads depend on both, the position of the blade-wagon along the path and
the height from the ground. Even though it is composed of a number of individual blades
that control their setting angle independently, this plant works as a whole and it is not
possible to analyze the aerodynamic behavior of each blade-wagon separately due to the
interaction of the adjacent blades. Strictly speaking in terms of its aerodynamics, the
VGOT is a vertical-axis multi-blade Darrieus turbine with adaptive setting-angle control.
Hence, the logical starting point for our study is on the estate-of-the-art aerodynamic
models for classical Darrieus rotors.
4.1. Alternative aerodynamic models for Darrieus rotors
The Darrieus turbine is a kind of power machine used originally in wind-power
applications and also recently applied to hydropower generation. These turbines have
several advantages, but the prediction of their behavior is more complex than for the
horizontal-axis turbines. Since 1970s several aerodynamic prediction models have been
formulated for Darrieus machines. Modelling of these turbines follows two different
schools: the streamtube-model approach, that is based upon equating the forces on the
rotor blade to the change in streamwise momentum through the rotor, and the vortexmodel approach, that is based upon vortex representation of the blades and their wakes.
The streamtube approach needs much less computation time but the vortex approach is
more accurate.
For a multi-blade machine like the VGOT, the use of a the vortex-model approach may
become prohibitive in terms of computational cost. The VGOTs number of blades (of
about a hundred or so), is substantially bigger than the conventional rotors. Representing
all those blades and their wakes by a vortex-lattice arrangement would make the computer
code extremely slow. On the other hand, the presence of a number of blades uniformly
distributed over the cross section of the rotor helps to close the gap between the streamtube
model and physical reality. Streamtube models compute the time-average of the forces
acting on the blades on the portion of trajectory across the streamtube. This is the
equivalent of assuming that there exist an innite number of blades of innitesimal chord
length in such a way that the product of the number of blades times the chord length (i.e.
the solidity) of the real rotor is preserved. In a conventional rotor, the aerodynamic forces
are concentrated in few blades. Conversely, in the multi-blade VGOT they are more
uniformly distributed in the many blades along the path, hence the VGOT layout is closer
to the ideal assumed by the streamtube-model approach. Another issue to take into
account is that the VGOTs big size implies large radii on the curved portions of the
trajectory and so low values of the angular speed o. That minimizes the so-called curvedow effect (which depends on o) which induces error in the streamtube-model calculation
of conventional rotors.
Stream-tube models have evolved with time and we can distinguish several categories.
The rst of them is the single streamtube model proposed by Templin [6]. It uses a single
tube that covers the entire span of the rotor. The rotors interference is represented by an
actuator disk. As the entire rotor is represented by only one tube with one actuator disk,
this model predicts a uniform ow for the entire cross section and cannot take into account
variations of the ow parameters between the upwind and downwind halves of the rotor.

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y
Wind
direction

V0

Up-wind region

Vlup

actuator disc

Veq

Down-wind region

V1

Vldw

x
actuator disc

Trajectory of the blade


Fig. 7. Schematic view of the tandem arrangement of a double-multiple streamtube.

To improve the predictive capacities Strickland [7] proposed the multiple streamtube model,
which was also studied by Wilson and Lissaman [8]. It uses an array of adjacent tubes to
cover the rotors span, which takes into account ow variations on the rotors cross
section. A more sophisticated approach called double-multiple streamtube model was
proposed by Paraschivoiu [911]. As it uses two actuator disks placed in tandem into each
tube of the multiple array (see Fig. 7), it can also predict differences between the upwind
and downwind halves. Advanced versions of Paraschivoius model incorporate dynamicstall simulation. Streamtube models (specially Paraschivoius) can predict effectively the
general performance of the rotor (power coefcient vs. tip speed ratio, power output vs.
wind speed, etc.) and their relatively low computational cost makes them a useful practical
tool for design.
In the following sections we shall describe the development of a new computational
model based on the double-multiple streamtube concept that incorporates the capacities of
dealing with rotors whose blades follow oval-trajectories at variable setting-angles.
4.2. Variable-geometry double-multiple streamtube model for oval-trajectory Darrieus rotors
As it was mentioned above, the streamtube models are based on the principle of
conservation of momentum. The local velocity for each streamtube is computed by
equating the average forces on the blades (calculated by the blade element theory using the
lift and drag coefcients) to the change in streamwise momentum on the streamtube. From
the scheme in Fig. 7, we have the following relation for the magnitude of the velocity along
a double streamtube:
V 0 4Vl up 4V eq 4Vl dw 4V 1 ,

(1)

where V 0 is the free-stream speed, Vl up and Vl dw the local upstream and downstream
velocities, V eq the equilibrium velocity in the coupling of both semitubes, and V 1 is the
nal velocity in the pseudo-innite downstream.

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The local velocities for each half of the rotor may be written in terms of the velocity at
the entrance of each semitube as
Vl up xup V 0 ;

Vl dw xdw V eq ,

(2)

where
0oxup o1;

0oxdw o1

(3)

are the interference factors for each half of the rotor. From the streamtube theory (see [5]),
the expression for the local velocity in terms of the inow and outow velocities is
Vl 12V in V out , then
Vl up 12V 0 V eq ,

(4)

which gives
V eq 122xup  1V 0 ,

(5)

then
xup

Vl up
;
V0

xdw

Vl dw
.
2xup  1V 0

(6)

The tip speed ratio is dened as l0 V p =V 0 , where V p is the tangential velocity of the
moving blade. We may dene expressions for the local tip speed ratios:
lup

Vp
l0

;
Vl up xup

ldw

Vp
l0
.

Vl dw xdw 2xup  1

(7)

From the scheme in Fig. 8, we have that the inow velocity on the blades may be expressed
as
2
 2 
Vp
W
cos y sin y2 l cos y2 sin y2 .

(8)
Vl
Vl
We can also obtain the angle of the inow
tan g

sin y
sin y
,

V p =Vl cos y l cos y

which in terms of the local values gives




W 2
lup cos y2 sin y2 ,
Vl up


W
Vl dw

2

(9)

(10)

ldw cos y2 sin y2

(11)

sin y
;
lup cos y

(12)

and
tan gup

tan gdw

sin y
.
ldw cos y

For a variable-geometry rotor we have that g a b, where b is the variable setting angle
and a is the effective angle of attack on the blade section. Fig. 9 illustrates the differences
between the velocity diagram for a xed-geometry Darrieus and a variable-geometry one.

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Wind
Direction

Vl sin

Vl cos

Vl

Vp cos

Vp

Vp sin
c

Fig. 8. Schematic diagram of the inow velocity on the blades.

Wind
direction

Vl

Vp

Wind
direction

Vl

= +

Vp

c
R

x
(a)

(b)

Fig. 9. Comparison of the inow-velocity diagram for a xed-geometry Darrieus (a), and a variable-geometry one (b).

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Now, an oval-trajectory Darrieus has two axis of symmetry, thus we have to introduce
new concepts which were absent in the standard model for the classical Darrieus rotor. Our
model must take into account the angle of the incident wind with respect to the main axis
of the oval. We chose to measure the incident-wind angle j from the minor axis of the
oval. Earlier versions of our model [12,13], only contemplated four-point compass roses.
That is, they just solve the cases where the incidence-wind angle was 0 or 90 (i.e.
perpendicular and parallel, respectively, to the major axis of the oval). It was satisfactory
for a rst attempt, but it produced too a conservative prediction of the general
performance for winds blowing from a broad range of directions around each side of the
mayor axis of the oval. It was of capital importance to determinate the ideal layout of
trajectory for a particular compass-rose conguration because the cost-effectiveness of the
plant depends on it. Thus, we developed an improved version of the model [14,15] that
could deal with those winds blowing from intermediate directions which the previous
versions underestimated. To this end, we introduced a dual-scheme streamtube
arrangement (see Fig. 10) which has the capacity of combining curved and straight tracks
for every double-streamtube in order to deal with incident winds blowing from any bearing
of the compass.
We also had to introduce a shape coefcient (CF) which denes a proportional relation
between the radius of the curved portions of the trajectory and the length of the straight
tracks. In this way, we may do changes in the trajectory layout and evaluate the resulting
performance under different wind conditions. Another particular aspect that we have to
contemplate was the denition of a new system of coordinates to describe the motion of
the blades. For an oval machine it is no longer possible to simply refer the blade motion to
the instant angle along the cycle as in a conventional Darrieus. Hence, we dene a new
parametric coordinate (s), which describes the motion of the blade and from which its

Wind
Direction

Up wind
region

Down
wind
region

Fig. 10. Diagram of the dual-scheme streamtube arrangement combining straight and curved tracks.

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Wind Direction
s2

Up Wind
Zone

y
s1

R
s3

s0
x

Down Wind
Zone

s5

s4

Fig. 11. Diagram of the oval trajectory described by the parametric coordinate s, showing the break points
between the straight and curved tracks.

position and the instant angle of its trajectory are computed. Fig. 11 shows a diagram of
the oval trajectory described by the parametric coordinate s.
Fig. 12 shows a diagram of the aerodynamic forces acting on the blades. From the bladeelement theory we have that the average value of the aerodynamic force acting on a set of
blades passing across a generic streamtube is
Z
Z
NDs 1 si1 zj1 1
F
rW 2 cC n siny  b j
13
stotal Ds si
2
zj
 C t cosy  b j C do cosy j dz ds,

14

where N is the total number of blades, stotal 2p CF R is the total length of the
trajectory, Ds si1  si is the length of the portion of trajectory across each tube, zj1 and
zj are the lower and upper heights of the streamtube, C t and C n are the Lilenthals
coefcients, and C do is the drag coefcient of the wagon (i.e. the aerodynamic drag exerted
on the wagons chassis itself).
On the other hand, from the classical theory of uid mechanics we have that the axial
force acting on a generic streamtube due to the change of momentum is
F rAVlV in  V out 2rDbVl 2

1  x
,
x

(15)

where A is the area of the actuator disk placed in the middle of the streamtube, which can
be written in terms of its height b zj1  zj and its width D (see an example for an
upwind tube at j 0 in Fig. 13).
Equating expressions (13) and (15), and after some algebra, we have the general
expression of the interference factor for a generic streamtube:
Z si1  2
1  x
Ncm
W

C n siny  b j
x
Vl
8p CF RD si
 C t cosy  b j C do cosy j ds,

16

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F.L. Ponta et al. / Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 3556

Ft

Fd

Fl
Fr

Fn

-ey

Fig. 12. Diagram of the aerodynamic forces acting on the blades.

y
si+1

V0

si
i+1
i

x
Fig. 13. An example of calculation of the width for an upwind tube at j 0.

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where cm is the average value of the blade-chord length along the height of the streamtube.
Combining expressions (7), (10), (11) and (16), we have the following expression for the
upstream interference factor:
!
2
Z si1 
1  xup
Ncm
l0
2

cosy j siny j
8p CF RD si
xup
xup
 C n siny  b j  C t cosy  b j C do cosy j ds,

17

and
1  xdw
Ncm

xdw
8p CF RD

si1
si

l0
cosy j
xdw 2xup  1

2
siny j

 C n siny  b j  C t cosy  b j C do cosy j ds,

18

for the downstream one.


We may compute the local interference factors solving (17) and (18) numerically for each
streamtube. We use a combination of subroutines: cubic-spline for interpolation of the
aerodynamic coefcients, NewtonCotes for integration and NewtonRapson to solve
the nonlinear functions. From the interference factors we computed the instantaneous
value of the upstream and downstream local velocities. Then, the power coefcient may be
calculated as
Cp

nth
nt
X
X
Nl0
cjm
2
2p CF 2 CF cos jR j1
i1

xijup siny
xijdw 2xijup

si1
si

l0 xijup cosy j2

j l0 xijdw 2xijup  1 cosy j2


 1 siny j2 C n sin b C t cos b  C do ds,
2

19

where nth is the total number of streamtubes in height and nt the total number of
streamtubes in width.

4.3. Especial parameters


Due to the especial geometric characteristics of the VGOT Darrieus, it was necessary to
propose three new non-dimensional parameters to quantify its performance under
different wind conditions: the equivalent power coefcient, the equivalent solidity
coefcient and the trajectory efciency. The two former are the corresponding extensions
to the VGOT case of the classical solidity and power coefcients of standard turbines. For
the equivalent power coefcient we have
Cpeq

npcr
X

f j% Cpj ,

(20)

j1

where f j% is the frequency of occurrence of a wind blowing from the jth bearing in the
compass rose, Cpj is the power coefcient for an incident-wind angle corresponding to the
jth bearing, and npcr is the total number of bearings in the wind compass rose. For the

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equivalent solidity coefcient we have


seq

Ncm
.
1 CF =pR

(21)

Note that expression (21) converges to its classical counterpart for conventional Darrieus
rotors when CF ! 0 (i.e. for a circular-trajectory layout).
The third parameter is a completely new conception exclusive for VGOT machines. The
trajectory efciency is an indicator of the economical efciency of a particular
conguration (i.e. a trajectory layout). It relates the total efciency of energy conversion
with the investment on rails and blades. The former is given by the product of the
frequency of occurrence of a certain bearing, times the correspondent power coefcient,
times the width of the respective swept area, and the latter is proportional to the total
length of the path. The expression for the trajectory efciency is
npcr j
X
f % Cpj 2 CF cosjj
Ef
.
2p CF
j1

(22)

5. Numerical results
In this section we include some numerical results of the application of our model. We
rst tested different congurations of oval-trajectory rotors with a xed trajectory layout
of CF 8. Fig. 14 shows the power-coefcient curves at j 0 for different values of
equivalent solidity obtained by changing the number of blades.
Next, we tested several rotor congurations changing CF (i.e. the trajectory layout) and
the number of blades in such a way of keeping constant the equivalent solidity. Fig. 15
shows the corresponding power-coefcient curves. We repeated the test for both extreme
0.6
N=60
0.5

N=70

Power Coefficient Cp

N=80
0.4

N=90
N=100
N=110

0.3

N=120
N=130

0.2

N=140
N=150

0.1

N=160
0
0

2
3
Tip Speed Ratio 0

Fig. 14. Power-coefcient curves at j 0 for VGOT rotors with different number of blades and CF 8.

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51

0.6
CF0
CF1 0
CF2 0
CF5 0
CF7 0
CF15 0
CF1 90
CF2 90
CF5 90
CF7 90
CF15 90

Power Coefficient Cp

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0
0

Tip Speed Ratio 0


Fig. 15. Power-coefcient curves at j 0 and j 90 for VGOT rotors with different trajectory layout but
constant solidity.

NNW

N
50

NNE

40

NW

NE

30
WNW

20

ENE

10
W

WSW

ESE

SW

SE
SSW

SSE
S

Fig. 16. Compass Rose 1.

cases of incident-wind angle j 0 and j 90 (i.e. when the wind blows, perpendicular
and parallel to the mayor axis of the oval trajectory).
To study the aptitude of a particular shape under specic wind conditions, we have
computed the equivalent power coefcient and the trajectory efciency for different
compass roses. Figs. 1618 show the compass-rose chart for three articially constructed
wind conditions that illustrate the extreme cases at which a VGOT Darrieus with its mayor
axis oriented in a NorthSouth direction could be subject. Compass Rose 1 corresponds to

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F.L. Ponta et al. / Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 3556

NNW

N
20

NNE

15

NW

NE

10
WNW

ENE
5

WSW

ESE
SW

SE
SSW

SSE
S

Fig. 17. Compass Rose 3.


N
NNW

50

NNE

40

NW

NE

30
WNW

20

ENE

10
W

WSW

ESE

SW

SE
SSW

SSE
S

Fig. 18. Compass Rose 4.

winds with a preferential bearing aligned with the minor axis of the oval, Compass Rose 3
to winds with no preferential bearing, and Compass Rose 4 to winds with a preferential
bearing aligned with the mayor axis. This series is completed with Compass Rose 2, which
correspond to the real case of the region of Comodoro Rivadavia in Patagonia, whose
chart is already depicted in Fig. 5.
Figs. 19 and 20 show the values of equivalent power coefcient and the trajectory
efciency for a series of VGOT rotors of different shape. All the rotors have a xed solidity
seq 0:6767 (which is a typical value for this kind of machine), and work at a tip speed
ratio l 2:2 which gives the optimum value for that solidity.

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Equivalent Power Coefficient Cpeq

0.55

0.5

0.45
Rose 1
Rose 2
Rose 3
Rose 4

0.4

0.35
0

12

16

20

24

Shape Coefficient CF
Fig. 19. Power-coefcient curves for a series of VGOT rotors of different shape under four representative wind
conditions.

Trajectory Efficiency Ef

0.24

0.18

0.12

0.06

Rose 1

Rose 2

Rose 3

Rose 4

12

16

20

24

Shape Coefficient CF
Fig. 20. Trajectory-efciency curves for a series of VGOT rotors of different shape under four representative wind
conditions.

Finally, we computed the aerodynamic loads which were applied to the blade as a
distributed load per unit-length. These loads varied in function of both the wagon position
along the path and the height from the ground, Figs. 21 and 22 show the aerodynamic load
per unit-length in the chord-wise and chord-normal directions (f chws , f chnor ) for different
heights along the blade in function of the parametric position along the path (i.e. s goes
from 0 to 1 to complete the cycle). These data are used as input for a forthcoming study of
the structural behavior of the balde-wagon.

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F.L. Ponta et al. / Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 3556

fchws

54

fchnor

Fig. 21. Aerodynamic load in chord-wise direction for different heights along the blade.

Fig. 22. Aerodynamic load in chord-normal direction for different heights along the blade.

6. Concluding remarks and outlook for further work


We developed a computational model based on the double-multiple streamtube concept.
We applied this model to the analysis of the novel aerodynamic conguration of the
innovative concept of the VGOT-Darrieus wind turbine. The new model presented here
may simulate either conventional Darrieus rotors or the new oval-trajectory variablegeometry ones. This capability allows this model to treat more general cases and it expands
the spectrum of analysis for Darrieus-turbine design.
We want to point out some particular aspects:
 The values of Cpeq in Fig. 19 show a relatively modest increment for increasing
values of CF. And for a sufciently-high CF, Cpeq is even smaller than for a classical

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55

circular-trajectory Darrieus (which in Fig. 19 corresponds to CF 0). This is so, even


for the cases where the wind has a strong preferential bearing aligned with the minor
axis of the oval, which are the most favorable conditions for a VGOT. For winds with
no preferential bearing or with a preferential bearing aligned with the mayor axis, the
situation is even worse. This observations could induce the wrong conclusion that the
oval trajectory is convenient only if the wind shows a strong preferential bearing aligned
with the ovals minor axis, and only moderated ovalities (i.e. small values of CF) are
recommended. Nevertheless, the real thing is that Cpeq does not constitute a good
measure of the actual energy-conversion efciency of a VGOT. Being an adaptation
of a parameter originally conceived to estimate the conversion efciency of standard
rotors, Cpeq does not take into account the savings in investments produced by the
substantial reduction in the number of blades and railway length due to the adoption of
an oval shape.
 The reasons explained above led to the introduction of Ef as a more realistic parameter
for the evaluation of the VGOT performance. Once the savings on investments due to
the reduction of the path length is taken into account, the whole scenario changes
substantially. The values of Ef in Fig. 20 show not only that the conversion efciency of
an oval machine keeps growing with CF for the favorably cases (Compass Roses 1 and
2) but, even for a wind condition with no preferential bearing, Ef is roughly equal as for
a standard rotor (i.e. the CF 0 case) and remains almost constant as CF increases. As
it is logical to expect, for the unfavorable cases where the wind shows a preferential
bearing aligned with the ovals mayor axis (as in Compass Rose 4), Ef is appreciably
smaller than for a standard rotor and it keeps decreasing with CF. However, this last
situation will never occur in reality because nobody would design a trajectory layout in
such a way that its mayor axis is aligned with the winds preferential bearing. Hence, the
worst possible case of all reduces to a compass rose with no preferential bearing which
could be dealt with simply adopting an almost-circular trajectory.
 We have to keep in mind that, even though we were compelled to use a circulartrajectory layout due to compass-rose characteristics, the advantages already mentioned
in Section 1 regarding the low-rotational-speed problems associated to a classical
Darrieus rotor of large diameter are still present. As well as, the possibility of using a
blade-positioning control system that operates continuously during the cycle without
the fatigue and mechanical-inertia problems associated to variable-geometry attempts in
classical Darrieus rotors.
We intend to continue our work with a study of the blade-wagon structural response. The
results of the present aerodynamic analysis for the instantaneous forces acting on the
blades (see Figs. 21 and 22) were used as input to the structural calculation. In a
forthcoming work, we shall present a study of the structural behavior of each component
of the blade-wagon structure: chassis, suspension and blade. Using combinations of
isoparametric beam/bar nite elements in an appropriate assembling, we shall estimate the
effects on the structure of the uctuating aerodynamic forces and eventual imperfections in
the layout of the railroad. Our objective is to dene a set of parameters to characterize the
structural behavior which help to understand the contribution of the different structural
components and assist the process of redesign. Besides, the mechanical design of the
suspension system and the blade-positioning device are now under development and we
intend to include their response in future stages of our study.

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F.L. Ponta et al. / Renewable Energy 32 (2007) 3556

Acknowledgments
We want to dedicate this work to the memory of Prof. Arch. Carlos Luna Pont, who was
in life deeply involved in this project and many more that we developed together in the
ISEP research-lab at the College of Engineering of UBA. A wonderful gentleman who
renewably invested his energy to impulse the cause of clean technologies and passed away
while working in an anemometry campaign on the windy elds of Argentine Patagonia.
This work was partially funded by research funds made available by the University of
Buenos Aires through Grants UBACyT-Pr.2001/04(I-17) and Pr.2004/07(I-56).
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