“Analysis of Fluid-Structure-Control Interaction in Wind-Turbine Blades”
Dr. Fernando Ponta, Michigan Tech University
Current wind-turbine blade technology, based on composite laminates, is labor-intensive and requires a highly qualified work force, creating a critical bottleneck in terms of industrial work force and infrastructure. This hampers a rapid expansion of wind-energy in the U.S. The monolithic conception of today’s blades also poses huge challenges in terms of transport logistics and crane capacity. Blades operate under a complex combination of fluctuating loads. Huge size differences complicate the extrapolation of experimental data from the wind tunnel to the prototype scale. The complex interaction of physical processes that characterize the coupled aeroelastic problem still exceeds the capacities of existing commercial simulation codes. A key for a breakthrough in wind-turbine technology is to reduce the uncertainties related to blade dynamics by the improvement of the quality of numerical simulations of the fluid-structure interaction process, and by a better understanding of the underlying physics. The goal is to introduce new technological solutions that improve the economics of blade design, manufacturing and transport logistics.
In this talk we shall present a new approach aimed to create a virtual test environment where the aeroelastic dynamics of innovative prototype blades may be tested at realistic full-scale conditions. It combines advanced numerical models for the different multiphysics phenomena, implemented in a parallel HPC supercomputer platform.
An assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech since 2007, Fernando Ponta earned his undergraduate engineering degree and PhD at the University of Buenos Aires. Before coming to Michigan Tech he was a postdoc in theoretical and applied mechanics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His area of expertise is in theoretical and computational continuum mechanics, vortex dynamics and advanced numerical methods for fluid-structure interaction analysis, especially as they apply to the study of wind-turbine aerodynamics and other energy systems utilizing renewable-energy sources. His research has resulted in more than 50 peer-reviewed articles. He received a 2010 Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation to help reduce the uncertainties related to wind turbine blade dynamics. He was also awarded the Gold Medal for Best Scientific Paper, at the 1998 Fifth World Renewable Energy Congress for work in innovative wind-power concepts.