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Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882
DOI 10.1007/s12206-015-0616-x

Aerodynamic shape optimized design for wind turbine blade using new airfoil series
Quan Wang1,*, Jun Wang1,*, Jin Chen2, Song Luo3 and Jinfeng Sun1
School of Mechanical Engineering, Hubei University of Technology, Wuhan, 430068, China
State Key Laboratory of Mechanic Transmission, Chongqing University, Chongqing, 400030, China
Clean Energy Research Institute, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33146, USA

(Manuscript Received February 12, 2014; Revised February 12, 2015; Accepted March 5, 2015)



This paper introduces a new airfoil series to optimize the aerodynamic shape of wind turbine blades. It is verified that the CQU-A air-
foil series exhibits high aerodynamic performance by using the wind tunnel experimental data and RFOIL. The geometry of a 2 MW
wind turbine blade with new airfoil families is designed preliminarily based on the shape of Tjaereborg 2 MW rotor. A multi-objective
optimized model combining the maximum power coefficient of the wind turbine with minimum area of the blade surface is proposed for
the pitch regulated wind turbine. An optimized code is developed based on the corrected blade element momentum (BEM) theory and
particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm. The optimization results show that, compared with that of the original rotor and the Tjae-
reborg rotor, not only the power coefficient and annual power production is improved, but also the area of the blade surface is reduced.
The decreased area indicates that the mass of the optimized blades is reduced. It is beneficial for increasing the fatigue life and reducing
cost of composite materials if the internal structure of the wind turbine blades is unchanged. Furthermore, the load of the blade root is
effectively controlled by using this alternative optimization program.
Keywords: Wind turbine blade; New airfoil series; Maximum power coefficient; Multi-objective PSO; Blade root load

method for site-specific design of wind turbines. Compared

1. Introduction
with a 1.5 MW stall regulated wind turbine in normal onshore
The size of the wind turbines has increased from about flat terrain, the energy production was increased by 28% in an
50kw in early 1980s to the latest multi-MW turbines. The offshore wind farm for the offshore wind farm [3]. Badred-
aerodynamic and structural design of a horizontal-axis wind dinne et al. developed an efficient numerical code for the op-
turbine (HAWT) rotor has become a subject of considerable timization of the aerodynamic characteristics of wind turbines.
interest. It involves the determination of airfoil series, the ge- The results revealed the potential for the optimum project in
ometry of an aerodynamic shape, and the composite material predicting improved and higher rotor performances [4]. Wang
structure. Capturing more wind energy, reducing blade weight Xudong and Wen Zhong Shen introduced a design tool for
and fatigue load are the main task in modern wind turbine optimizing wind turbine blades based on aerodynamic code
research. and blade element momentum (BEM) theory. To illustrate the
Fuglsang and Madsen developed a numerical multi-disci- optimization technique, three different wind turbine rotors are
plinary optimization method for design of horizontal-axis applied. The results showed that the optimization model can
wind turbines. The objective was to minimize cost of energy. reduce the cost of energy of the original rotors, especially for
An optimization of a 1.5 MW stall regulated rotor demon- the investigated 2 MW and 5 MW rotors [5]. Kim presented
strated the design method, and the results showed that con- an aerodynamic design of 3 MW class blade using BEM and
straints on loads are important for the applicability of the op- confirmed that the design satisfied the initial design target by
timization results [1]. Benini and Toffolo described a multi- BEM and CFD analysis [6]. Jeong et al. presented a design
objective optimization method for designing of stall-regulated optimization method for a 1.5-MW HAWT blade to minimize
horizontal-axis wind turbines. The best trade-off performance the fluctuation of the bending moment of the blade in turbu-
between annual energy production (AEP) and cost of energy lent wind. With the optimized blade shape, the wind turbine
(COP) was achieved [2]. Fuglsang and Bak presented a can be operated with decreased aerodynamic loads and have a
Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 27 59750415, Fax.: +86 27 59750136
longer life in turbulent wind [7]. Lee modified the airfoil
E-mail address:; shape and planform of a wind turbine blade to reduce airfoil

Recommended by Associate Editor Kyu Hong Kim self-noise.

KSME & Springer 2015
2872 Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882

The wind tunnel experimental results showed that airfoil self-

noise is reduced by up to 2.6 Db [8]. With the development of
wind turbine blades, Liu, Maki, Kwon, and Nam also made
significant contributions to this field [9-12]. Those studies on
the wind turbines performance and characteristics not only
improved the efficiency of wind energy, but also reduced the
cost of energy.
However, most of these studies focused on the improve-
ment of the original wind turbine blade to increase energy
production and reduce cost of energy. Few works focused on
the optimization design of wind turbine blades with complete Fig. 1. Velocities at the blade section.
new airfoil series. In addition, it is necessary to reduce the
weight when optimizing aerodynamic shape of wind turbine
blades. The reduced weight of wind turbine blades could im- tangential velocity could be written in Eq. (1) based on the
prove the fatigue life and reduce the cost of composite materi- momentum theory with the effects of rotation in the wake.
als. Although the minimum mass of wind turbine blades has
been studied based on finite element method [13, 14], it only Vx = V0 (1 - a )
V = Wr (1 + b) . (1)
considered the structural properties and ignored the aerody- y
namic performance. Because the MW-size wind turbine blade
with complicated surface flow is made of composite materials, The local angle of attack is given by:
which the density is different along the blade span-wise, it is
hard to build the mathematical model of blade mass using a = j -q , (2)
classical lamination theory. How to simplify the calculated
model of blade mass when optimizing the profiles of wind where q is the local pitch angle of the blade.
turbine blades is another important subject. Furthermore, it is seen that:
Therefore, seven new airfoils (The maximum relative thick-
ness is from 15% to 40%) designed by the authors are intro- (1 - a )V0
j = arctan . (3)
duced in this paper. The wind tunnel experiments were carried (1 + b)Wr
out to demonstrate the aerodynamic performance of the airfoil
series. To simplify the model of wind turbine blade mass, a The relative velocity is a combination of the axial velocity
mathematical model of blade curve surface area is presented and the tangential velocity.
with the same structure. Minimizing the blade curve surface
area indicates that the blade weight is reduced, supposing the
Vrel = Vx2 + Vy2 = (1 - a ) 2V02 + (1 + b) 2 (Wr ) 2 , (4)
identical composite structure. Then, a multi-objective opti-
mized model which combines the maximum energy coeffi-
cient and the minimum area of the blade curve surface is pro- where V0 is the wind speed, is the angular velocity of the
posed for pitch regulated wind turbine. The design variables wind turbine blade, r is the location of blade element along
are the chord length and twist angle. The root loads must be span-wise, a is the axial induction factor, and b is the tangen-
constrained. An optimized procedure is developed based on tial induction factor. The axial induction factor and the tangen-
the corrected blade element momentum (BEM) theory and tial induction factor can be calculated based on BEM theory.
particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm. A new 2 MW However, Shen [17] introduced a refined tip-loss correction to
wind turbine blade is optimized using this method. Finally, the calculate them. The principal points with the improved tip-loss
comparisons of aerodynamic performance for the final rotor, correction are summarized here.
the original rotor and the Tjaereborg 2 MW rotor are imple- Using blade element theory, the axial load and the torque
mented. are written as

2. Aerodynamic model dT = B r cVrel2 F1Cn dr , (5)
Glauret [15] developed the original BEM theory that com- 1
dM = B r cVrel2 F1Ct rdr , (6)
bines blade element theory and momentum theory. From then, 2
the BEM equations and Prandtl tip loss correction have been
refined for many times to obtain better prediction of wind where (Cn, Ct) are the 2D force coefficients and F1 is the cor-
turbine performance [16]. relation between the 2D force coefficients and the 3D force
Fig. 1 shows a cross section of a rotor blade. The rotating coefficients on the blade. B is the number of blades. r is the
direction of the blade is clockwise. The axial velocity and the density of air. c is the chord length. The Cn, Ct and F1 are
Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882 2873

given as:

Cn = cl cos j + cd sin j , (7)

Ct = cl sin j - cd cos j , (8)
2 B( R - r )
F1 = cos -1[exp(- g )] , (9)
p 2r sin j
g = exp[-0.125( Bl - 21)] + 0.1 (10)

where cl, cd is the lift coefficients and drag coefficients, re-

spectively. R is the blade radius. r is the radial distance from Fig. 2. CQU-A airfoil series.
the rotor centre. l is the tip speed ratio.
By the momentum theory, the axial load and the torque are
written as:

dT = 4prV02 aF (1 - aF )rdr , (11)

dM = 4prWV0bF (1 - aF )r 3dr , (12)

where F is the Prandtl tip-loss function given as:

2 B( R - r )
F= cos -1[exp(- )] . (13)
p 2r sin j
Fig. 3. CQU-A airfoil series.
By Eqs. (5), (6), (11) and (12), the final formulas of the in-
duction factors become

2 + Y1 - 4Y1 (1 - F ) + Y12
a= , (14)
2(1 + FY1 )
b= , (15)
(1 - aF )Y2 / (1 - a ) - 1

where, Y1 = 4 F sin 2 j (s Cn F1 ) , Y2 = 4 F sin j cos j (s Ct F1 )

and s = Bc (2p r ). For details, refer to Shen et al. [16].
Two indispensable components of Eqs. (7) and (8) are the
lift and drag coefficients. The lift and drag coefficients of each
blade section must be known before calculating the interfer-
ence factors a and b. The aerodynamic of some new airfoils
with different thickness designed by authors will be tested and
Fig. 4. The wind tunnel test section with a test stand.
calculated in section 3.

is the main rotor power production part. Therefore, the wind

3. Validation of the new airfoils
tunnel testing was carried out for the two airfoils. Due to the
The high aerodynamic performance of wind turbine airfoils, limited space, the experimental data of CQU-A180 airfoil is
named CQU-A airfoils with the maximum relative thickness selected to prove that the new airfoils exhibit high aerody-
of 15% to 40%, are employed to design the wind turbine blade. namic performance.
The CQU-A airfoil series was designed by using general inte- To indicate that the new airfoil exhibits higher aerodynamic
gral equations of airfoil profiles based on the generalized performance, wind tunnel experiments and the numerical pre-
functional and Trajkovski conformal transform. For details dictions for CQU-A180 airfoil were carried out in smooth
about the theory of the airfoil designing approach, refer to the condition. The wind tunnel results are from airfoil research
results of Chen et al. [18]. Figs. 2 and 3 are the profiles of center of Northwestern Polytechnical University in China.
CQU-A airfoil series (named CQU-A150, CQU-A180, CQU- Reynolds number is 3.0106 and Mach number is 0.16. The
A210, CQU-A250, CQU-A300, CQU-A350 and CQU-A400). test stand shown in Fig. 4 was built for 2D airfoil testing. To
Generally, the CQU-A180 and CQU-A210 airfoils are located measure the static and total pressure, pitot tubes were installed
at the position of 70% to 85% along the blade span-wise that at different locations in the test section. This effort was to
2874 Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882

-2.5 0.2
Experiment 0.18 wind tunnel:smooth


-0.5 0.1


1 0.02

1.5 0
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 -10 -5 0 5 10 15 20
x/c a/o

Fig. 5. Comparison of the measured and predicted pressure coefficient Fig. 7. CQU-A180 measured and predicted drag coefficient for smooth
distribution at = 6, Re = 3.0106. surface flow at Re = 3.0106.








-0.5 NACA-64-418:free transition

-0.5 NACA-64-418:fixed transition
RFOIL CQU-A180:free transition
wind tunnel:smooth CQU-A180:fixed transition
-10 -5 0 5 10 15 20 -1
-10 -5 0 5 10 15 20
a/o /()

Fig. 6. CQU-A180 measured and predicted lift coefficient for smooth Fig. 8. A comparison of lift coefficients for CQU-A180 and NACA-
surface flow at Re = 3.0106. 64-418.

determine the wind tunnel reference pressures and estimate 1.690, which is practically identical to the predicted value
the turbulence level. The airfoil was equipped with 92 pres- (1.667) for smooth flow. The shape of lift coefficient (CL)
sure taps, all of which were placed along the chord at the cen- versus was approximately linear before maximum lift coef-
tre line of the model in a staggered alignment, so that distur- ficient (CL,max). The stall was well defined and the post-stall
bance from upstream taps could be minimized. The pressure region was smooth. The minimum CD was measured as
taps were carefully distributed in a manner through which the 0.0059, which agrees quite well with the predicted value of
expected pressure gradients can be adequately resolved. The 0.00592. There is a clear drop of CL in the post stall region, as
numerical predictions were calculated using RFOIL. can be expected due to the high value of CL,max. Although there
Fig. 5 shows the numerical and measured pressure distribu- is a little difference between the calculation and the test in the
tions of the CQU-A180 airfoil for smooth surface flow. The post-stall region, the trends of curve for lift coefficient and
measured and the numerical prediction showed desirable drag coefficient in deep stall are the same. Therefore, the re-
agreement. The suction side pressure distribution of this airfoil sults calculated by RFOIL are reasonable.
showed a significant peak at the leading edge, which facili- The comparison of the aerodynamic performance for the
tates the pressure recovery towards the trailing edge, and CQU-A180 airfoil and NACA-64-418 airfoil (The airfoils of
meanwhile, secures the airfoil against separation. Despite the Tjaereborg blade are composed of NACA airfoil series) is
some after-loading, most of the loading is distributed over the performed to demonstrate that the newly designed airfoil has a
leading edge. better aerodynamic characteristic. The free transition model is
Figs. 6 and 7 show the measured CL and CD of the CQU- used to simulate the smooth surface flow, while the fixed tran-
A180 airfoil for smooth flow (free transition) compared with sition model is introduced to simulate the rough surface flow
numerical prediction. The maximum CL was measured as (The transition points for the suction and pressure sides are
Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882 2875

Table 1. A comparison of the aerodynamic performance of airfoils. Table 2. Basic parameters of the rotor.

Airfoil Smooth condition Rough condition Rated Rated Number Direction Blade Design tip
CL,max L/D,max CL,max L/D,max power speed of blades of rotation length speed ratio

1.311 139.314 1.277 74.335 2 MW 12.5 m/s 3 clockwise 31m 6~8

(13) (4) (13) (7)
1.666 175.654 1.615 92.665
CQU-A180 the attack angle along the blade
(11) (7) (11) (7)
(Figures in brackets are the angle of attack corresponding to the maxi-
mum lift coefficient and the maximum lift/drag ratio.) 15

a ()

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
R (m)

Fig. 10. Attack angle along the blade.



NACA-64-418:free transition
-50 NACA-64-418:fixed transition
CQU-A180:free transition
CQU-A180:fixed transition
-10 -5 0 5 10 15 20

Fig. 9. The comparison of lift/drag ratio for CQU-A180 and NACA-


Fig. 11. Transition airfoil between CQU-A300 and CQU-A350 airfoil.

fixed to 1% and 10%, respectively) [19, 20]. Figs. 8 and 9
show the comparisons of aerodynamic performance between
the new airfoils and NACA-63-418 for the same condition (Re angle along the blade is between 4 and 7 except for field of
= 3.0106Ma = 0.15). Table 1 shows the main aerodynamic the blade root, which is reasonable for the operating blade.
parameters of the two airfoils. Compared with the aerody-
namic performance of NACA-64-418 airfoil, the maximum 4. Blade design and optimization model
lift coefficient of CQU-A180 airfoil is 1.666, increased by 4.1 Blade design
27.078% at the angle of attack = 11, and the maximum
lift/drag ratio is up to 175.654, risen by 26.085% at the angle Wind turbine blade design consists of the distribution of the
of attack = 7 in the free transition. In the fixed transition, airfoils, the chord length and the twist angle along the blade
the maximum lift coefficient of CQU-A180 airfoil is 1.615, span-wise. Table 2 shows the basic parameters of a 2 MW
improved by 26.468% at the angle of attack = 11; and the wind turbine blade. The maximum chord length is 3.2 m, and
maximum lift/drag ratio reaches 92.665, enhanced by the maximum twist angle is 12.0 They are linear along the
24.659% at the angle of attack = 7. In the main angle of blade span-wise for the original blade. The chord and twist
attack, the new airfoils show a higher lift and lift/drag ratio angle will be considered as variables when optimizing the
than commonly used wind turbine airfoil for both free and shape of the wind turbine blade.
fixed transitions. The distribution of the new airfoil series and the boundary
It is very important for the rotor to operate at a certain sta- conditions along blade span are shown in Table 3. The transi-
bility field, which is related to the attack angle of the airfoil. tion airfoil could be obtained by interpolating (see Fig. 11)
Therefore, the attack angles along the blade which the values between other two airfoils. Because, Re and Ma are in fact
are not greater than stall angle except for the blade root must different along the wind turbine blade span-wise. They vary
be set. For wind turbine blades, the attack angle along the constantly with the change of rotor speed. Fig. 12 shows that
blade can be calculated based on blade element moment the rotor speed has great impact on the Reynolds number. The
(BEM) theory, if the twist angle along the blade is known. For maximum Re number is up to 8.0106 at the location of
example, the twist angle distribution along the blade for the about 70% along blade span-wise when the rotor speed is 30
Tjaereborg rotor is known in Fig. 17. The attack angle will be rpm. Re number for several key blade sections is given in
computed as shown in Fig. 10. Fig. 10 shows that the attack Table 3 when the rotor speed is 20 rpm. Because Ma number
2876 Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882

Table 3. Distribution of airfoils along the blade span-wise and bound-
ary conditions. 220

Relative Boundary
= r/R Airfoil
thickness condition 180
Re = 1.010 , 160
0.04~0.08 100% cylinder

CL/CD , max
Ma = 0.15 140
Transition Re = 1.0106, 120
0.10~0.20 100%~40%
airfoil Ma = 0.15
100 CQU-A150
Re = 1.5106, CQU-A180
0.20~0.25 40% CQU-A400 80
Ma = 0.15 CQU-A210
Transition Re = 1.510 , 60
0.25~0.30 40%~35%
airfoil Ma = 0.15 40 CQU-A350
Re = 2.5106, 20
0.30~0.35 35% CQU-A350 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Ma = 0.15
Re 6
6 x 10
Transition Re = 2.510 ,
0.35~0.40 35%~30%
airfoil Ma = 0.15 Fig. 13. Maximum lift/drag ratios with the change of Reynolds number.
Re = 2.5106,
0.40~0.45 30% CQU-A300
Ma = 0.15
Transition Re = 2.5106, with Reynolds number from 1.0106 to 8.0106 for the
0.45~0.50 30%~25%
airfoil Ma = 0.15 CQU-A airfoil series in smooth condition. It can be seen that
Re = 3.0106, the maximum CL/CD increases with Re number. It is important
0.50~0.60 25% CQU-A250
Ma = 0.15 to take this change into account for designing a wind turbine
Transition Re = 3.0106, blade. The largest change in CL/CD appears between Re = 1.0
0.60~0.65 25%~21%
airfoil Ma = 0.15 106 and Re = 3.0106.
Re = 3.0106,
0.65~0.70 21% CQU-A210
Ma = 0.15
Transition Re = 3.0106,
4.2 Optimization model
0.70~0.75 21%~18%
airfoil Ma = 0.15
The most important factor of optimization is to locate all
Re = 2.5106, important parameters and a suitable object function. From
0.75~0.80 18% CQU-A180
Ma = 0.15
earlier optimization studies of wind turbines [1-3], the most
Transition Re = 2.5106,
0.80~0.85 18%~15% convenient method is to maximize the power coefficient or to
airfoil Ma = 0.15
minimize the cost of energy. In this study, a multi-objective
Re = 2.5106,
0.85~1.00 15% CQU-A150 function with maximizing power coefficient and minimizing
Ma = 0.15
the area of curve surface for a 2 MW wind turbine is intro-
x 10
6 duced. Another important point is to choose a set of suitable
rotor speed=10(rpm)
design variables and constraint condition.
9 rotor speed=20(rpm)
rotor speed=25(rpm)
rotor speed=30(rpm) 4.2.1 Objective function
7 On a pitch regulated machine, it is possible to actively pitch
6 the entire blade and thus to change simultaneously the angles
of attack along its entire length. By pitching the entire blade it

is possible to control the angles of attack and thus the power
output. This will make it possible to reach maximum power
3 coefficient Cp. Thus, one of the objective functions is taken as:

1 F1 ( X ) = max C p . ( ) (16)
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1
r/R According to the definition of the power coefficient, it can
Fig. 12. Reynolds number distributions along blade span with the be expressed as
change of rotor speed.
Cp = . (17)
has little influence on the aerodynamic performance for wind rV A / 2

turbine airfoils, it is taken as 0.15 for the whole blade.

Fig. 13 shows the theoretical variation of maximum CL/CD Based on BEM theory, it can also be written as
Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882 2877

Table 4. Constrained ranges of optimized design variables.

Chord length Twist angle Relative thickness

c/m () /%
Maximum 3.2 12.0 40
Minimum 0.1 -0.1 15

model is essentially characterized by a nonlinear multi-

objective function. A common method is to translate multi-
objective functions into a single objective function:
Fig. 14. Area of blade curve surface.

{ }
F ( X ) = max m1F1 ( X ) + (1 - m1 ) - F2 ( X ) / k , (23)
8l 2 R
Cp = b(1 - a )r 3dr . (18)
R4 0 where 1 is weighting factor, 1[0, 1], and the optimization
result is better when it is set to 0.45. The scale factor k is set to
If the lift coefficient and drag coefficient are known, the Cp 100 to make sure that the two objective functions are the same
can be obtained by calculating the axial induction factor a and order of magnitude.
the tangential induction factor b. The aerodynamic characteris-
tic of the airfoils could be computed by RFOIL that is intro- 4.2.2 Design variables and constraints
duced in Sec. 3. To obtain a suitable shape of an MW-size wind turbine
An MW-size wind turbine blade with complicated curve blade, the geometry of the blade needs to be controlled by
surface is made of composite materials that lead to the differ- chord length, twist angle, airfoils, as well as rotational speed
ent density along its entire length. It is challenging to build the and pitch angle. The aerodynamic characteristic of the airfoils
mathematical model of blade mass by classical lamination are the lift and drag coefficients that depend on the angle of
theory. To simplify the model of the mass for wind turbine attack.
blades, the surface area may replace the mass prediction in the To illustrate the optimization model, the Tjaereborg 2 MW
case of the same internal structure. If the area for the blade rotor [5] with NACAXX airfoils is chosen for comparison.
curve surface is reduced, the mass of the rotor will be de- The initial geometry of the optimized model is based on the
creased. Therefore, another objective function is as follows: Tjaereborg rotor except for the new airfoil series, which is
called the original rotor. Once the chord and twist angle are
F2 ( X ) = min ( Ablade ) , (19) determined, the relative thickness is determined by spatial
n coordinate transformation. Therefore, the chord and twist an-
Ablade = B lim DS = B dS = B f (x,y) dr . (20) gle for each blade section can be seen as design variables.
l 0
i =1 S S

Fig. 14 shows the area calculating model of blade curve sur- X i min X i X i max i = 1, 2 . (24)
face. f(x, y) is the profile length function related to the position
of the blade section. It can be expressed as: To make sure that the designed blade exhibits high aerody-
namic characteristic and continuous smoothness of the surface,
a spline function is used to control the distribution of the chord
f (x,y) = (x i+1 -x i ) 2 + (yi+1 -yi ) 2 , (21)
i =1 and twist angle. Table 4 gives the constrained ranges of the
design variables.
where xi , yi are the three-dimensional coordinate data of the The total load has not only a normal component to the flow
blade section. According to the principle of blade geometry but also a tangential component in the rotational direction of
space coordinate transformation, (xi , yi) can be expressed: the blades. The tangential load component delivers the shaft
torque that turns the rotor. To characterize these loads it is
xi = c(x0 cos b + y0 sin b ) common to state the flapwise and the edgewise bending mo-
y = c(x sin b + y cos b ) , (22)
ments at a position close to the root of the blades. The flap-
i 0 0

wise bending moment stems from the normal forces (Thrust),

where x0, y0 are the two-dimensional coordinate of airfoils which tend to deflect the blades out of the rotor plane in the
with unit chord; c is the chord length of a certain blade sec- downwind direction. The edgewise bending moment is the
tion; is the twist angle of a certain blade section. bending moment in the rotor plane from the tangential force
The area of the blade curve surface can be calculated by distribution. The edgewise bending moment is sometimes
combining Eqs. (21)-(23). referred to as the lead-lag moment. Because the flapwise
From the above two objective functions, the optimization bending is mostly influenced by the aerodynamic loads that
2878 Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882

the original chord length
3 the optimal chord length


C (m)


5 10 15 20 25 30
R (m)

Fig. 16. Distribution of the chord length.

F ( X ) = max{m1F1 ( X ) + (1 - m1 )[- F2 ( X ) / ratio]}

the original twist angle
10 the optimal twist angle

q ()

Fig. 15. Flowchart of the optimized design algorithm.
5 10 15 20 25 30
R (m)

Fig. 17. Distribution of the twist angle.

vary with the turbulent wind field [15], the flapwise bending
on the blades is constrained as:
algorithm and modified BEM theory is shown in Fig. 15. The
1 R V 2 (1 - a ) 2
objective function, the design variables and the constraints
M flap = r B 0 cCn rdr M flap ,max , (25)
2 0 sin 2 j must first be determined. The particle swarm should be initial-
ized by setting the chord and twist angle. The distribution of
where M flap ,max is the maximum flapwise bending moment. the chord and twist angle can be interpolated by spline func-
A bigger shaft torque will increase the load of the transmis- tion. Then, the fitness is calculated according to Cp and Ablade.
sion system and reduce the lifetime of the gearbox. The shaft The optimization value will not be terminated until meeting
torque on the blades is constrained as: the termination conditions.

1 R V (1 - a ) wr (1 + b )
MT = r B 0 cCt rdr M T ,max , (26) 5. Results and discussion
2 0 sin j cos j
The optimization results converge after the number of itera-
where M T ,max is the maximum torsion that is taken to be the tions is up to 200. The optimization results are better when the
maximum thrust of the original rotor. weighting factor 1 is 0.25. Fig. 16 shows the comparison of
the distribution for the optimization chord length and the
4.2.3 Optimization algorithm original chord length. The distribution of the optimization
An optimized procedure for wind turbine blades can be chord length exhibits nonlinear characteristics compared with
achieved by combining PSO algorithm and BEM theory. the original one. Moreover, the chord length of each blade
Based on the improved BEM theory, giving a certain initial section is shorter than that of the original blade, especially in
condition and setting the tolerance, the axial induction factor the middle of the blade. This is because that one of the objec-
and the tangential induction factor may be computed from Eqs. tive functions is minimum area of the wind turbine blade sur-
(14) and (15). Then, the load on the blade and the power of the face. The area of the wind turbine blade is reduced by PSO
rotor can be obtained. A multi-objective PSO algorithm [20- algorithm. Fig. 17 shows the comparison of the distribution
22] is introduced to optimize the geometry of the new wind for the optimized twist angle and the original twist angle. The
turbine blade. new distribution of the optimization twist angle also performs
The basic parameters of PSO are: inertial factor w, 0.85; nonlinear compared with the one of the original twist angle.
learning factor, C1 = C2 = 0.5; variable dimension, n = 16; The twist angle at the root is larger than that of the original
population size, 50; the maximum iteration, 200; weighting blade. Whereas, the change of the twist angle near the tip is
factor, 0.25; and the scale factor, 500. The flow chart of the not significant. The blade coordinate data could be obtained
optimization procedure that combines a multi-objective PSO after the chord, twist angle and airfoils determined by coordi-
Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882 2879

Table 5. Comparison of the performance for the new design blade and 8000

the traditional blade.


Tjaereborg Original Optimization

Rotor 6000
rotor rotor rotor

root bend moment (KN.m)

Best tip speed ratio 7.0 7.0 7.0 5000

Maximum power
0.47658 0.48866 0.50830 4000
coefficient Cp,max
Annual power 3000
production 4.224106 4.321106 4.406106
AEP (kWh) 2000

Rotor area Tjaereborg rotor

357.847 344.348 278.906 1000
(m2) original rotor
optimized rotor
Root bend moment 0
4655 5311 4542 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
tip speed ratio l
Rotor torsion
599 584 580 Fig. 19. Comparison of the root bends moment for the new design
blade and the traditional blade.

0 800
Tjaereborg rotor
original rotor
30 optimized rotor

25 600
root torsion(KN.m)





2 1 0 200
(a) Original blade
0.5 100
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
0 tip speed ratio l
Fig. 20. Comparison of the rotor torsion for the new design blade and
the traditional blade.

20 power coefficient and annual power production at the expense

of root flapwise bending moment and rotor torsion. Compared
with the original rotor, the maximum power coefficient of the
optimization rotor is 0.50830 increased by 4.019%; the annual
5 power production is up to 4.406106 kWh boost by 1.967%;
2 1 0
the rotor area is 278.906 m2 (0.2R~1.0R) reduced by 19.005%.
(b) New blade
That means that the mass of the optimization blades is de-
creased, which could improve the blade fatigue life and reduce
Fig. 18. Three-dimensional surfaces for the original blade and the new the cost of composite materials supposing the internal struc-
ture of the blade is unchanged. The high aerodynamic loads of
the new airfoil series could improve the root load and rotor
nate transformation. Then, the new 3D surface with smooth torsion of the original rotor. However, combining Figs. 19, 20
continuous characteristic could be plotted as shown in Fig. 18. and Table 5, compared with Tjaereborg rotor and original
Compared with the original blade, the chord length distribu- rotor, the root flapwise bending moment and rotor torsion of
tion of the new blade exhibits nonlinear and the surface of the the new rotor are both reduced when the tip speed ratio is
new blade are more smooth continuity. less than 8. Therefore, this new optimization model could
Table 5 shows the comparison of the performance for the control root load effectively.
new rotor and the traditional rotor. Compared with the Tjaere- Fig. 21 compares the calculated power coefficients of Tjae-
borg rotor, the original rotor has its advantage of maximum reborg rotor, the preliminary rotor and the optimization rotor.
2880 Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882

foil series with high aerodynamic performance is introduced

to design wind turbine blade. The power coefficient of the
new rotor is higher than the one of the original rotor when the
0.4 tip speed ratio is between 6 and 12.
Rotor power coefficient Cp

Fig. 22 shows the comparisons of the average annual power

0.3 production for the Tjaereborg rotor, the original rotor and the
new rotor varied with wind speed. The comparisons of the
rotor power for the three kinds of rotors are shown in Fig. 23.
It is indicated that the average annual power production and
the rotor power are improved within the rated speed
0.1 Tjaere rotor (V12.5 m/s) compared with the original rotor and the Tjaere-
Original rotor
Optimal rotor
borg rotor. When the wind speed is larger than rated speed, the
0 power is located to 2 MW by transmission control and pitch
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Tip speed ratio l adjustment.
From the above results and discussion, it can be concluded
Fig. 21. Comparison of rotor power coefficient as a function of the tip
speed ratio. that the comprehensive properties of the new wind turbine are
improved compared with the original one and Tjaereborg rotor.
There are three reasons. The new airfoil series with high aero-
x 10
3 dynamic performance could improve the rotor power per-
Tjaere rotor
Original rotor
formance. Using PSO algorithm, the design variables will
2.5 Optimal rotor automatically reach certain values which are beneficial for
Average annual power production E(kwh)

improving the objective function. As a result, the chord length

2 and twist angle distribution of the new blade exhibits nonlin-
ear, which could also improve the rotor comprehensive per-
1.5 formance and reduce the mass of the wind turbine blade. The
reasons for improvements based on aerodynamic physics must
1 also be mentioned. Therefore, the new airfoil series with high
performance, the nonlinear chord and twist angle and aerody-
0.5 namic physics are the three key factors for the future wind
turbine blade design.
5 10 15 20
Wind speed U(m/s) 6. Conclusion
Fig. 22. Comparison of the distribution of the average annual power A new airfoil series is introduced to shape optimization for
wind turbine blades, and two of them are validated by wind
tunnel experimental data. An optimization code based on the

x 10 blade element momentum theory and PSO algorithm is devel-
oped. A novel shape of a 2-MW wind turbine blade with the
new airfoil series is designed by this optimization code. Re-
sults indicate that it is possible to boost the rotor power per-
formance by optimizing the chord and twist angle based on
Rotor power P(w)

1.5 the original rotor. The new rotor with new airfoil series not
only exhibits more maximum power coefficient, more annual
power production but also lower root load in comparison with
the Tjaereborg rotor and original rotor in normal operating
condition. Therefore, this novel optimization method with
Tjaere rotor new airfoil series is helpful for a modern MW-sized wind
Original rotor
Optimal rotor
turbine blade. However, the blade is designed and optimized
5 10 15 20
on a normal operating condition. If the stall stability and local
Wind speed U(m/s) stress concentration of the blade is considered, the optimized
Fig. 23. Comparison of rotor power. model will be more complicated. Therefore, in the next step,
these ideas will be considered in the optimization code.

Compared with the Tjaereborg rotor, the power coefficient of

the preliminary rotor has higher value when the tip speed ratio
is between 2 and 7.5. The reason is that the new CQU-A air- This work is supported by National Natural Science Foun-
Q. Wang et al. / Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology 29 (7) (2015) 2871~2882 2881

dation of China (No.51405140), Research Project of Hubei

University of Technology (BSQD13016), the Youth Sci-
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[19] W. A. Timmer and A. P. Schaffarczyk, The effect of Quan Wang received his B.S. in Mecha-
roughness at high reynolds numbers on the performance of nical Engineering in 2007 from Yangtze
aerofoil DU 97-W-300Mod, Wind Energy, 136 (2004) 295- University, his M.S. and Ph.D. in Me-
30. chanical Engineering in 2009 and 2013,
[20] W. A. Timmer and V. T. Prjom, Summary of the delft respectively, from Chongqing University.
university wind turbine dedicated airfoils, J. of Solar En- He now does teaching and research related
ergy Engineering, 125 (2003) 488-496. with mechanical work. His research inter-
[21] J. Kennedy and R. Ebcrhart, Particle swarm optimization, ests cover mechanical system optimization
Proceedings of the IEEE Intemational Conference on Neu- design, aerodynamic and structural design of wind turbine blade.
ral Networks (1995) 1942-1948.
[22] Y. Shi and R. Eberhart, Modified particle swarm opti- Jun Wang is a professor in Mechanical
mizer. In Proceedings of the IEEE international conference Engineering at HuBei University of Tech-
on evolutionary computation, Piscataway, IEEE (1998) nology. He received his B.S. in Aircraft
69-73. Design from BeiJing University of Aero-
[23] A. Chatterjee and P. Siarry, Nonlinear inertia weight nautics and Astronautics (2002), and M.S.
variation for dynamic adaptation in particle swarm optimi- in Mechanical Engineering from Tenne-
zation, Computers and Operations Research, 33 (3) (2006) ssee Technological University (2007) and
859-871. his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from
Tennessee Technological University (2010). His research interests
include mechanisms, robotics, manufacturing and renewable energy.