Dynamic stall in vertical axis wind turbines: Scaling and topological considerations

Abel John Buchner, Julio Soria, Damon Honnery, Alexander J. Smits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Vertical axis wind turbine blades are subject to rapid, cyclical variations in angle of attack and relative airspeed which can induce dynamic stall. This phenomenon poses an obstacle to the greater implementation of vertical axis wind turbines because dynamic stall can reduce turbine efficiency and induce structural vibrations and noise. This study seeks to provide a more comprehensive description of dynamic stall in vertical axis wind turbines, with an emphasis on understanding its parametric dependence and scaling behaviour. This problem is of practical relevance to vertical axis wind turbine design but the inherent coupling of the pitching and velocity scales in the blade kinematics makes this problem of more broad fundamental interest as well. Experiments are performed using particle image velocimetry in the vicinity of the blades of a straight-bladed gyromill-type vertical axis wind turbine at blade Reynolds numbers of between 50 000 and 140 000, tip speed ratios between to , and dimensionless pitch rates of . The effect of these factors on the evolution, strength and timing of vortex shedding from the turbine blades is determined. It is found that tip speed ratio alone is insufficient to describe the circulation production and vortex shedding behaviour from vertical axis wind turbine blades, and a scaling incorporating the dimensionless pitch rate is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)746-766
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Apr 25 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


  • separated flows
  • vortex flows
  • wakes/jets


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