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Design, Analysis, Hybrid Testing and Orientation Control of a Floating Platform with Counter-Rotating Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines

  • Author(s): Kanner, Samuel Adam Chinman
  • Advisor(s): Yeung, Ronald W
  • et al.

The design and operation of two counter-rotating vertical-axis wind turbines on a floating, semi-submersible platform is studied. The technology, called the Multiple Integrated and Synchronized Turbines (MIST) platform has the potential to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy per unit of installed capacity. Attached to the platform are closely-spaced, counter-rotating turbines, which can achieve a higher power density per planform area because of synergistic interaction effects. The purpose of the research is to control the orientation of the platform and rotational speeds of the turbines by modifying the energy absorbed by each of the generators of the turbines.

To analyze the various aspects of the platform and wind turbines, the analysis is drawn from the fields of hydrodynamics, electromagnetics, aerodynamics and control theory. To study the hydrodynamics of the floating platform in incident monochromatic waves, potential theory is utilized, taking into account the slow-drift yaw motion of the platform. Steady, second-order moments that are spatially dependent (i.e., dependent on the platform's yaw orientation relative to the incident waves) are given special attention since there are no natural restoring yaw moment. The aerodynamics of the counter-rotating turbines are studied in collaboration with researchers at the UC Berkeley Mathematics Department using a high-order, implicit, large-eddy simulation. An element flipping technique is utilized to extend the method to a domain with counter-rotating turbines and the effects from the closely-spaced turbines is compared with existing experimental data.

Hybrid testing techniques on a model platform are utilized to prove the controllability of the platform in lieu of a wind-wave tank. A 1:82 model-scale floating platform is fabricated and tested at the UC Berkeley Physical-Model Testing Facility. The vertical-axis wind turbines are simulated by spinning, controllable actuators that can be updated in real-time of the model scale. Under certain wind and wave headings, it is possible to control the orientation of the platform in regular waves to maximize the power output from the turbines. A time-domain numerical simulation tool is able to confirm some of the experimental findings, taking into account the decoupled properties of the slow-drift hydrodynamics and wind turbine aerodynamics. Future platform designs are discussed, including the French-based, pre-commercial design from Nenuphar Wind, called the TwinFloat, which is closely related to concepts examined in the thesis.

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