Wind turbine technology has improved dramatically over the past decade, to the extent where wind turbine diameters are expected to soon exceed 160m and top 10MW in rated power output. While the development of these larger turbines has become immensely sophisticated, relatively little effort is being put forth to improve performance of smaller wind turbines, typically used in applications otherwise unsuitable for large installations. In this paper we investigate both computationally and experimentally the feasibility of a morphing turbine rotor, wherein blades are constructed of a flexible material and permitted to bend passively in response to external loading. The results indicate that the flexible blades can act as a passive pitch control device, resulting in significant improvements in efficiency when compared to a traditional rigid-blade design.

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