High resolution RANS CFD analysis is performed to support the design and development of the Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) TidGen™ multi-directional tidal turbine. Two-dimensional and three-dimensional unsteady, moving-mesh CFD is utilized to parameterize the device performance and to provide guidance for device efficiency improvements.

The unsteady CFD analysis was performed using a well validated, naval hydrodynamic CFD solver and implementing dynamic overset meshes to perform the relative motion between geometric components. This dynamic capability along with the turbulence model for the expected massively separated flows was validated against published data of a high angle of attack pitching airfoil.

Two-dimensional analyses were performed to assess both blade shape and operating conditions. The blade shape performance was parameterized on both blade camber and trailing edge thickness. The blades shapes were found to produce nearly the same power generation at the peak efficiency tip speed ratio (TSR), however off-design conditions were found to exhibit a strong dependency on blade shape. Turbine blades with the camber pointing outward radially were found to perform best over the widest range of TSR’s. In addition, a thickened blade trailing edge was found to be superior at the highest TSR’s with little performance degradation at low TSR’s.

Three-dimensional moving mesh analyses were performed on the rotating portion of the full TidGen™ geometry and on a turbine blade stack-up. Partitioning the 3D blades axially showed that no sections reached the idealized 2D performance. The 3D efficiency dropped by approximately 12 percentage points at the peak efficiency TSR. A blade stack-up analysis was performed on the complex 3D/barreled/twisted turbine blade. The analysis first assessed the infinite length blade performance, next end effects were introduced by extruding the 2D foil to the nominal 5.6m length, next barreling was added to the straight foils, and finally twist was added to the foils to reproduce the TidGen™ geometry. The study showed that making the blades a finite length had a large negative impact on the performance, whereas barreling and twisting the foils had only minor impacts. Based on the 3D simulations the largest factor impacting performance in the 3D turbine was a reduction in mass flow through the turbine due to the streamlines being forces outward in the horizontal plane due to the turbine flow resistance. Strategies to mitigate these 3D losses were investigated, including adding flow deflectors on the turbine support structure and stacking multiple turbines in-line.

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