In this paper, the aerodynamics of two vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs) are discussed, on the basis of a wide set of experiments performed at Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy. A H-shaped and a Troposkien Darrieus turbine for microgeneration, featuring the same swept area and blade section, are tested at full-scale. Performance measurements show that the Troposkien rotor outperforms the H-shaped turbine, thanks to the larger midspan section of the Troposkien rotor and to the nonaerodynamic struts of the H-shaped rotor. These features are consistent with the character of the wakes shed by the turbines, measured by means of hot wire anemometry on several surfaces downstream of the models. The H-shape and Troposkien turbine wakes exhibit relevant differences in the three-dimensional morphology and unsteady evolution. In particular, large-scale vortices dominate the tip region of the wake shed by the H-shape turbine; these vortices pulsate significantly during the period, due to the periodic fluctuation of the blade aerodynamic loading. Conversely, the highly tapered shape of the Troposkien rotor not only prevents the onset of tip vortices, but also induces a dramatic spanwise reduction of tip speed ratio (TSR), promoting the onset of local dynamic stall marked by high periodic and turbulent unsteadiness in the tip region of the wake. The way in which these mechanisms affect the wake evolution and mixing process for the two classes of turbines is investigated for different tip speed ratios, highlighting some relevant implications in the framework of wind energy exploitation.

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