First Advisor

Raúl Bayoán Cal

Date of Publication

Fall 11-30-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical and Materials Engineering




Wakes (Aerodynamics), Turbulence



Physical Description

1 online resource (xxii, 260 pages)


Wind energy is one of the significant sources of renewable energy, yet a number of challenges preclude optimal operation of wind plants. Research is warranted in order to minimize the power losses and improve the productivity of wind plants. Here, a framework combining turbulence theory and data mining techniques is built to elucidate physics and mechanisms driving the energy extraction of the wind plants under a number of atmospheric/operating conditions. The performance of wind turbines is subjected to adverse effects caused by wake interactions. Therefore, it is crucial to understand wake-to-wake interactions as well as wake-to-atmospheric boundary layer interactions. Experimental and numerical data sets are examined in order to provide descriptions of the wakes and extract relevant features. As wakes merge, it is of interest to observe characteristics within the turbulent velocity signal obtained via wind tunnel experiments. Higher order moments, structure functions, intermittency and multifractality analysis are investigated to distinguish the flow dynamics. In this manner, considered approaches highlight the flow deceleration induced by the wind turbines, which subsequently changes the energy transfer rate imposed by the coherent eddies, and adapt the equilibrium range in the energy cascade. Also, wind turbines induce scale interactions and cause the intermittency that lingers at large and small scales. When wind plants interact dynamically with small scales, the flow becomes highly intermittent and multifractality is increased, especially near the rotor. Multifractality parameters, including the Hurst exponent and the combination factor, show the ability to describe the flow state in terms of its development. Based on Markov theory, the time evolution of the probability density function of the velocity is described via the Fokker-Planck equation and its Kramers-Moyal coefficients. Stochastic analysis proves the non-universality of the turbulent cascade immediate to the rotor, and the impact of the generation mechanism on flow cascade. Classifying the wake flow based the velocity and intermittency signs emphasizes that a negative correlation is dominant downstream from the rotor. These results reflect large-scale organization of the velocity-intermittency events corresponding to a recirculation region near the hub height and bottom tip. A linear regression approach based on the Gram-Charlier series expansion of the joint probability density function successfully models the contribution of the second and fourth quadrants. Thus, the model is able to predict the imbalance in the velocity and intermittency contribution to momentum transfer. Via large eddy simulations, the structure of the turbulent flow within the array under stratified conditions is quantified through the use of the Reynolds stress anisotropy tensor, proper orthogonal decomposition and cluster-based modeling. Perturbations induced by the turbine wakes are absorbed by the background turbulence in the unstable and neutrally stratified cases. Contrary, the flow in the stable stratified case is fully dominated by the presence of turbines and extremely influenced by the Coriolis force. Also, during the unstable period the turbulent kinetic energy is maximum. Thus, leading to fast convergence of the cumulative energy with only few modes. Reynolds stress anisotropy tensor reveals that under unstable thermal stratification the turbulence state tends to be more isotropic. The turbulent mixing due to buoyancy determines the degree of anisotropy and the energy distribution between the flow layers. The wakes of the turbines display large degree of anisotropy due to the correlation with the turbulent kinetic energy production. A combinatorial technique merging image segmentation via K-Means clustering and colormap of the barycentric map is posed. Clustering aids in extracting identical features from the spatial distribution of anisotropy colormap images by minimizing the sum of squared error over all clusters. Clustering also enables to highlight the wake expansion and interaction as produced by the wind turbines as a function of thermal stratification. A cluster-based reduced-order dynamical model is proposed for flow field and passive scalars; the model relies on full-state measurements. The dynamical behavior is predicted through the cluster transition matrix and modeled as a Markov process. The geometric nature of the attractor shows the ability to assess the quality of the clustering and identify transition regions. Periodical trends in the cluster transition matrix characterize the intrinsic periodical behavior of the wake. The modeling strategy points out a feasible path for future design and control that can be used to maximize power output. In addition, characterization of intermittency with power integration model can allow for power fluctuation arrangement/prediction in wind plants.


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