Experimental parameter study for passive vortex generators on a 30% thick airfoil

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Passive vane-type vortex generators (VGs) are commonly used on wind turbine blades to mitigate the effects of flow separation. However, significant uncertainty surrounds VG design guidelines. Understanding the influence of VG parameters on airfoil performance requires a systematic approach targeting wind energy-specific airfoils. Thus, the 30%-thick DU97-W-300 airfoil was equipped with numerous VG designs, and its performance was evaluated in the Delft University Low Turbulence Wind Tunnel at a chord-based Reynolds number of 2×106. Oil-flow visualizations confirmed the suppression of separation as a result of the vortex-induced mixing. Further investigation of the oil streaks demonstrated a method to determine the vortex strength. The airfoil performance sensitivity to 41 different VG designs was explored by analysing model and wake pressures. The chordwise positioning, array configuration, and vane height were of prime importance. The sensitivity to vane length, inclination angle, vane shape, and array packing density proved secondary. The VGs were also able to delay stall with simulated airfoil surface roughness. The use of the VG mounting strip was detrimental to the airfoil's performance, highlighting the aerodynamic cost of the commonly used mounting technique. Time-averaged pressure distributions and the lift standard deviation revealed that the presence of VGs increases load fluctuations in the stalling regime, compared with the uncontrolled case.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-765
Number of pages21
JournalWind Energy
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • DU97W300
  • Parametric study
  • Passive flow control
  • Separation delay
  • Vane type
  • Vortex generators


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