Ian Masters, Rami Malki, Alison J. Williams, and T.N. Croft – Applied Mathematical Modeling, June 2013
Studies of tidal stream turbine performance and of wake development are often conducted in tow-tanks or in regulated flumes with uniform flows across the turbine. Whilst such studies can be very useful, it is questionable as to what extent the results would differ if the flows were more complex in nature, for instance if the flows were unsteady or non-uniform or even both. This study aims to explore whether the results would be affected once we move away from the uniform flow scenario. A numerical modelling study is presented in which tidal stream turbine performance and wake development in non-uniform flow conditions are assessed. The model implements the Blade Element Momentum method for characterising turbine rotor source terms which are used within a Computational Fluid Dynamics model for predicting the interaction between the turbines and the surrounding flow. The model is applied to a rectangular domain and a range of slopes are implemented for the water surface to instigate an increase in flow velocity along the domain. Within an accelerated flow domain wake recovery occurred more rapidly although rotor performance was not affected.