The emergence of supersonic flow on wind turbines

Delphine De Tavernier*, Dominic Von Terzi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


The future generation of wind turbines will be characterised by longer and more flexible blades. These large wind turbines are facing higher Reynolds numbers, as a consequence of longer chord lengths and increased relative wind speeds. Higher tip speeds, however, also result in an increased Mach number. Although the maximum tip speed in steady design conditions may remain (well) below the critical value, the presence of turbulence, wind gusts, blade deflections, etc. in combination with the flow acceleration over the airfoil surface, may cause a significant increase in the velocity perceived over the blade surface. We have evaluated the operational conditions of the IEA 15MW reference turbine using OpenFAST in normal design and off-design conditions to demonstrate that, if unabated, near-future wind turbines will be at risk of suffering from local supersonic flow. The driving factor is identified to be inflow turbulence, however, the tip airfoil is also of major importance. Local supersonic flow conditions may lead to severe lifetime degradation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number042068
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event2022 Science of Making Torque from Wind, TORQUE 2022 - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 1 Jun 20223 Jun 2022

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