A concept for an innovative wind turbine blade with an actively transformable twist distribution is presented. A simulation model demonstrates that adapting the blade twist distribution can increase the aerodynamic efficiency during partial-load operation. A blade concept consisting of a rigid spar that is surrounded by deformable modular shells is also proposed. The outer shells are assumed to be produced using additive manufacturing (AM) technology. Integrated features enabled by the AM process tune the stiffness, and thus the degree of flexibility for each surrounding segment. The unique local stiffness and the placement of actuators establishes a nonlinear twist angle distribution (TAD). An optimal design procedure is devised for setting the stiffness and actuator locations. It maximizes the aerodynamic efficiency for a discrete range of wind speed. The blade performance is quantified using data acquired from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Aerodyn software. A computer cluster is used to facilitate this process. It must consider the TAD for the range of wind speed that corresponds to the partial-load operation. The design procedure first establishes the TAD geometry based on the theoretical aerodynamic modeling. The TAD geometry is then passed to a mechanical design algorithm. At this point, the actuator positions are set, and the stiffness ratios of the adaptable shells are defined using the objective function. It minimizes the amount of deviation between the actual TAD and that found in the aerodynamic analysis. The free-shape TAD is determined in the final step. This is the shape of the blade when no actuation force is applied to the shells. This shape is then selected to minimize the amount of deflection needed to shape the TAD between its extreme positions. A case study demonstrates the ability of the blade and the proposed design process. The study indicates that a blade with five actuators can achieve the full range of TAD motion. The final solution shows that the adaptive TAD can increase the efficiency by 3.8 and 3.3%, respectively, at the cut-in and rated speeds.

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