• computational fluid dynamics;
  • mesh adaptation;
  • finite volume method;
  • wind turbine airfoil


In this paper we investigate local adaptive refinement of unstructured hexahedral meshes for computations of the flow around the DU91 wind turbine airfoil. This is a 25% thick airfoil, found at the mid-span section of a wind turbine blade. Wind turbine applications typically involve unsteady flows due to changes in the angle of attack and to unsteady flow separation at high angles of attack. In order to obtain reasonably accurate results for all these conditions one should use a mesh which is refined in many regions, which is not computationally efficient. Our solution is to apply an automated mesh adaptation technique.

In this paper we test an adaptive refinement strategy developed for unstructured hexahedral meshes for steady flow conditions. The automated mesh adaptation is based on local flow sensors for pressure, velocity, density or a combination of these flow variables. This way the mesh is refined only in those regions necessary for high accuracy, retaining computational efficiency. A validation study is performed for two cases: attached flow at an angle of 6° and separated flow at 12°. The results obtained using our adaptive mesh strategy are compared with experimental data and with results obtained with an equally sized non-adapted mesh. From these computations it can be concluded that for a given computing time, adapted meshes result in solutions closer to the experimental data compared to non-adapted meshes for attached flow. Finally, we show results for unsteady computations. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.