High-Strength Wind Turbine Blades and Wings

TitleHigh-Strength Wind Turbine Blades and Wings
Publication TypePatent
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsRoth-Johnson, Perry, and Richard E. Wirz
Date Published07/2013
Patent TypeApplication
Other NumbersUC Case 2012-752-0
Keywordsairplane wings, fluid pumps, fluid turbine blades, propellers, wind turbine blades
AbstractUCLA researchers in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have developed a novel biplane blade configuration that optimizes aero-structural performance for wind turbine blades and other airfoil applications. Modern wind turbine blades utilize a single element from root to tip (i.e. "monoplane" blades). Furthermore, modern blades use thick airfoils in the inboard region to support the large bending loads near the blade root. While the aerodynamic performance of thick airfoils is generally poor, this is the standard compromise between aerodynamics and structures in blade design. Normally, this compromise is sufficient for small- and mid-size turbines, because the aerodynamics of the inboard region are assumed to be minor. However, as wind turbine blades continue to increase in length to capture more power, these thick airfoils will likely get thicker, highlighting the inboard region's fundamental performance trade-off between aerodynamics and structures. Researchers from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering have developed a novel blade design that optimizes both aerodynamic performance and structural strength in wind turbines. The design integrates monoplane and biplane configurations across the span of the blade and describes the composite layup of its internal structure: using composite materials for a box-beam spar structure forming the main load-carrying component. By taking advantage of a biplane configuration, the blade design can minimize airfoil thickness, optimizing aerodynamic and power performance, while the blade gap greatly improves the bending moment of inertia of the inboard region and strength of the overall structure. The invention may be used either for the manufacture of the design or for building a computer model that simulates the performance of the design. One particularly attractive implementation of this design is for use as a large (100 meter) biplane wind turbine blade for increased power production. This invention may also be industrially applied to the manufacture and use of fluid turbine blades, airplane wings, pumps, and propellers.