Wind energy has become an important resource for the growing demand for clean energy. In 2020 wind energy provided more than 6% of the global electricity demand. It is expected to reach 7% at the end of 2021. The installation growth rate of small wind turbines, though, is relatively slow. The reasons we are interested in the small vertical axis wind turbines are their low noise, environmentally friendly, low installation cost, and capable of being rooftop-mounted. The main goal of the present study is an optimization process towards achieving the optimal cost-effective vertical wind turbine. Thirty wind turbine models were tested under the same conditions in an Azrieli 30 × 30 × 90 cm low-speed wind tunnel at 107,000 Reynolds number. The different types of models were obtained by parametric variations of five basic models, maintaining the same aspect ratio but varying the number of bucket phases, the orientation angles, and the gaps between the vanes. The best performing turbine model was made of one phase with two vanes of non-symmetric bipolynomial profiles that exhibited 0.2 power coefficient, relative to 0.16 and 0.13 that were obtained for symmetrical polynomial and the original Savonius type turbines, respectively. Free rotation, static forces and moments, and dynamic moments and power were measured for the sake of comparison and explanation for the variations in performances of different types of turbines. CFD calculations were used to understand the forces and moment behaviors of the optimized turbine.

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