The interaction of helical tip and root vortices in a wind turbine wake

Michael Sherry, Andras Nemes, David Lo Jacono, Hugh M. Blackburn, John Sheridan

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63 Scopus citations


Analysis of the helical vortices measured behind a model wind turbine in a water channel are reported. Phase-locked measurements using planar particle image velocimetry are taken behind a Glauert rotor to investigate the evolution and breakdown of the helical vortex structures. Existing linear stability theory predicts helical vortex filaments to be susceptible to three unstable modes. The current work presents tip and root vortex evolution in the wake for varying tip speed ratio and shows a breaking of the helical symmetry and merging of the vortices due to mutual inductance between the vortical filaments. The merging of the vortices is shown to be steady with rotor phase, however, small-scale non-periodic meander of the vortex positions is also observed. The generation of the helical wake is demonstrated to be closely coupled with the blade aerodynamics, strongly influencing the vortex properties which are shown to agree with theoretical predictions of the circulation shed into the wake by the blades. The mutual inductance of the helices is shown to occur at the same non-dimensional wake distance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117102
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


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