A better comprehension of the aerodynamic behavior of rotating airfoils in Darrieus Vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) is crucial both for the further development of these machines and for improvement of conventional design tools based on zero or one-dimensional models (e.g. BEM models).

When smaller rotors are designed with high chord-to-radius (c/R) ratios so as not to limit the blade Reynolds number, the performance of turbine blades has been suggested to be heavily impacted by a virtual camber effect imparted on the blades by the curvilinear flow they experience.

To assess the impact of this virtual camber effect on blade and turbine performance, a standard NACA0018 airfoil and a NACA0018 conformally transformed such that the airfoil’s chord line follows the arc of a circle, where the ratio of the airfoil’s chord to the circle’s radius is 0.25 were considered. For both airfoils, wind tunnel tests were carried out to assess their aerodynamic lift and drag coefficients for Reynolds numbers of interest for Darrieus VAWTs.

Unsteady CFD calculations have been then carried out to obtain curvilinear flow performance data for the same airfoils mounted on a Darrieus rotor with a c/R of 0.25. The blade incidence and lift and drag forces were extracted from the CFD output using a novel incidence angle deduction technique.

According to virtual camber theory, the transformed airfoil in this curvilinear flow should be equivalent to the NACA0018 in rectilinear flow, while the NACA0018 should be equivalent to the inverted transformed airfoil in rectilinear flow.

Comparisons were made between these airfoil pairings using the CFD output and the rectilinear performance data obtained from the wind tunnel tests and XFoil output in the form of pressure distributions and lift and drag polars.

Blade torque coefficients and turbine power coefficient are also presented for the CFD VAWT using both blade profiles.

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