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3 Blade at low, medium & high angles of attack There is, unfortunately, also a retarding force on the blade: the drag. This is the force parallel to the wind flow, and also increases with angle of attack. If the aerofoil shape is good, the lift force is much bigger than the drag, but at very high angles of attack, especially when the blade stalls, the drag increases dramatically. So at an angle slightly less than the maximum lift angle, the blade reaches its maximum lift/drag ratio. The best operating point will be between these two angles. Since the drag is in the downwind direction, it may seem that it wouldn t matter for a wind turbine as the drag would be parallel to the turbine axis, so wouldn t slow the rotor down. It would just create thrust, the force that acts parallel to the turbine axis hence has no tendency to speed up or slow down the rotor. When the rotor is stationary (e.g. just before start-up), this is indeed the case. However the blade s own movement through the air means that, as far as the blade is concerned, the wind is blowing from a different angle. This is called apparent wind. The apparent wind is stronger than the true wind but its angle is less favourable: it rotates the angles of the lift and drag to reduce the effect of lift force pulling the blade round and increase the effect of drag slowing it down. It also means that the lift force contributes to the thrust on the rotor. Apparent wind angles The result of this is that, to maintain a good angle of attack, the blade must be turned further from the true wind angle. WE Handbook- 2- Aerodynamics and Loads

4 Twist The closer to the tip of the blade you get, the faster the blade is moving through the air and so the greater the apparent wind angle is. Thus the blade needs to be turned further at the tips than at the root, in other words it must be built with a twist along its length. Typically the twist is around from root to tip. The requirement to twist the blade has implications on the ease of manufacture. Blade twist Blade section shape Apart from the twist, wind turbine blades have similar requirements to aeroplane wings, so their cross-sections are usually based on a similar family of shapes. In general the best lift/drag characteristics are obtained by an aerofoil that is fairly thin: it s thickness might be only 10-15% of its chord length (the length across the blade, in the direction of the wind flow). Typical aerofoil shapes offering good lift/drag ratio WE Handbook- 2- Aerodynamics and Loads 4

7 Effect of tip speed ratio on sensitivity to drag Low tip speed ratio would seem like a better choice but unfortunately results in lower aerodynamic efficiency, due to two effects. Because the lift force on the blades generates torque, it has an equal but opposite effect on the wind, tending to push it around tangentially in the other direction. The result is that the air downwind of the turbine has swirl, i.e. it spins in the opposite direction to the blades. That swirl represents lost power so reduces the available power that can be extracted from the wind. Lower rotational speed requires higher torque for the same power output, so lower tip speed results in higher wake swirl losses. Swirl in the wake WE Handbook- 2- Aerodynamics and Loads

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