Windlab’s Turbulence Prediction model has featured in an Earth Hour publication highlighting how technology is helping to reduce emissions. The article is reproduced below (Canberra Times 18 March 2009)
Finding the best spot to put a wind turbine can often be tricky. Not only does there have to be lots of wind, but also, the wind has to flow smoothly.
Windlab Systems has developed various software tools to improve the efficiency of wind farms. The Canberra-based company’s latest offering will be a computational model to predict turbulence on wind energy sites. Turbulent air can inflict many different forces on the turbine blades and structure, increasing wear on the parts and also decreasing the amount of energy the turbine can extract from the air.
The model uses computational fluid dynamics – the rules of how fluids such as air move – to calculate and predict how wind around a turbine, given certain topical features, will behave.
The model uses computational fluid dynamics – the rules of how fluids such as air move – to calculate and predict levels of turbulence in air passing through the disk of the turbine blades. With this information engineers can avoid placing turbines in areas of rapidly changing, turbulent air flow.
Windlab’s chief technology officer Keith Ayotte said one of the major challenges in doing this was the computational power required. One turbulence analysis could require hundreds of billions of calculations.
”Because the amount of power we have with computers is increasing fairly rapidly, we’re only really now getting to the point where we can consider doing these things,” Dr Ayotte said.
The company plans to release the model commercially towards the end of the year or beginning of next.