CFD simulation of the effect of rain on the performance of horizontal wind turbines



Wind turbine power output is influenced by environmental conditions, including rain. Therefore, a better understanding of the effect of rain on the performance of wind turbines is necessary. Our coupled Lagrangian-Eulerian multiphase computational fluid dynamics model was modified to more accurately simulate the momentum transfer during water film formation on the airfoils of a horizontal-axis turbine and the performance loss caused by the rainwater film on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) turbine performance. To obtain three-dimensional numerical simulation of the wind turbine in manageable computational time, simplifying assumptions were made and the validity of these assumptions was verified by simulating the flow over the S809 airfoil of the NREL turbine. In a dry environment, simulation of turbine power output agreed well with NREL experimental data. Our multiphase model showed that the rain film accumulation and flow on the surface of the turbine airfoil reduces the power output of the turbine. © 2017 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 63: 5375–5383, 2017