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Proposal For Optimization of Starting Performance in Small Wind Turbines using Particle Swarm Optimization

Submitted By: Ershad Ahmed Email: Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA - 01003

Submitted To: Dr. Sundar Krishnamurty

In Response To: Engineering Design Optimization Project Course #MIE 616 Date: 03/02/2011


Small wind turbines are power generators with a much lower energy output than the large commercial wind turbines. They are defined as having rated capabilities of 100KW and less. They are generally installed in residential and urban areas or on rooftops after considering installation criteria. Power extraction from small wind turbine blades is different than in larger wind turbines as small wind turbines are required to be self-starting. Blades optimized for maximum power extraction are known to have poor starting performance, which is very essential in small wind turbines. A study undertaken at the University of Newcastle, Australia by Prof. D. H. Wood, M. J. Clifton-Smith et al shows the importance of starting performance in small wind turbines [3]. Further, the numeric method of Differential Evolution was employed to maximize for both power and starting time, i.e. multi-objective optimization where a small amount of power is traded for an increased starting performance thereby reducing the cost of energy (CoE) [2]. In this project, a comparative study will be undertaken using Particle Swarm Optimization.

Plan of Action

The proposed project focuses on optimization of a small blade design by making a trade-off between the blades power producing capability and its starting performance. Particle Swarm Optimization will be employed to find the optimal starting performance with minimal reduction in the blades power producing capability. Although the optimal solutions for the design of maximal efficiency of a wind turbine blade have been defined (Betz limit), experimental and computational studies of the starting process in small wind turbines have shown that these optimized blades are the slowest to start [3]. A good starting performance is very critical in small wind turbines. The starting torque is mainly generated near the hub, hence some power producing capability can be traded for an improved starting performance as most power-producing torque comes from the tip region. Amongst the various evolutionary strategies, Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) technique will be employed. PSO is a solution search technique in which the particle is treated as a swarm. PSO is based on two techniques the technique of modeling the behavior of a swarm and cognitive psychology. In a PSO system, particles fly around in a multi-dimensional search space. During flight, each particle re- evaluates its position based on its experience (The value is called Pbest) and according to the experience of the neighboring particle (This value is called Gbest). A weighting factor is applied to each term on the right hand of the equation and the present search value is initially set to random value.

Standard blade element theory (BET) will be used to calculate the power coefficient, and a modified blade element method for the starting time. In the BET, the blade is assumed to be divided into N sections (or elements). In implementing PSO, the particles will be the chord and twist of each element. Although other factors such as tip speed ratio increase the power coefficient, the main focus of this study will be on the two critical design criteria the chord and twist of the blade. The main assumption of the analysis of starting performance is that a long idling time dominates. Hence the starting time refers to the idling time. Analysis and experiments show that during this time high angles of attack on the blades reduce slowly as the angular velocity increases slowly from rest, hence justifying the quasi- steady analysis. More assumptions towards the calculation of starting time will be incorporated in the project. Starting involves aspects of blade design that are generally ignored in the standard power-producing optimization, i.e. design based on the Lanchester-Betz limit.

Expected Results

The goal of this project is to reduce the starting time of the small wind blade with minimal reduction in the power coefficient or power output of the blade. It is expected that the values of the optimized blade will closely follow that of the original blade near the tip, as it is the area where the majority of the power is produced. The optimized output will show a deviation from the original blade design towards the hub as the improved starting performance comes from the changes in the input variables, namely chord and twist, near the hub. The inclusion of more particles in the PSO technique will give varied outputs. An increase in the power output maybe expected if the tip speed ratio is added to the PSO and a reduction in the power coefficient if tip losses are included. These factors are not expected to affect the starting performance of small wind turbines.


[1] Wind Energy Explained Theory, Design and Application 2nd Ed, by J.F Manwell, J.G McGowan and A.L Rogers [2] M. J. Clifton-Smith and D. H. Wood: Further Dual Purpose Evolutionary Optimization of Small Wind Turbines in Journal of Physics: Conference Series 75 012017, 2007 6596_75_1_012017.pdf [3] D. H. Wood: Dual Purpose Design of Small Wind Turbine Blades in Wind Engineering 28 5 pp 511-27

[4] Shinji Kitagawa, Kichio Takenaka and Yoshikazu Fukuyama: Recent Optimization Techniques and applications to Customer Solutions in Fuji Electric Journal [5] Xiaohui Hu and Russell Eberhart: Multi-objective Optimization using Dynamic Neighbourhood Particle Swarm Optimization [6]\