Spanwise flow corrections for tidal turbines

  • A. Wimshurst
  • R. Willden
Keywords: Spanwise flow, Tip loss, Tip correction, Actuator line method, Blade loading


Actuator line computations of two different tidal turbine rotor designs are presented over a range of tip speed ratios. To account for the reduction in blade loading on the outboard sections of these rotor designs, a spanwise flow correction is applied. This spanwise flow correction is a modified version of the correction factor of Shen et al. (Wind Energy 2005; 8: 457-475) which was originally developed for wind turbine rotors at high tip speed ratios. The modified correction is described as ‘directionally dependent’ in that it allows a more aggressive reduction in the tangential (torque producing) direction than the axial (thrust producing) direction and hence allows the sectional force vector to rotate away from the rotor plane (towards the streamwise direction). When using the modified correction factor, the actuator line computations show a significant improvement in the accuracy of prediction of the rotor thrust and torque, when compared to similar actuator line computations that do not allow the sectional force vector to rotate. Furthermore, the rotation of the sectional force vector is attributed to the changing surface pressure distribution on the outboard sections of the blade, which arises from the spanwise flow along the blade. The rotation of the sectional force vector can also be used to explain the reduction in sectional lift coefficient and increase in sectional drag coefficient that has been observed on the outboard blade sections of several rotors in the literature