Rapid Aeromechanical Design of Marine Propellers and Wind Turbines

Brenden Epps, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Friday, April 20, 2012, 3:30pm

Spanos Auditorium

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series.

This seminar will present a novel aeromechanical simulation method for the rapid design, analysis, and optimization of offshore wind turbines. Inspiration comes from an open-source suite of propeller design tools developed by the presenter, which will be discussed in order to lay the groundwork for the wind turbine problem. One of the major hurdles in producing wind energy in a reliable and cost-competitive manner is the technical challenge of predicting unsteady blade loads. Unsteady blade loads can lead to structural failure, costly maintenance, and system downtime; thus, they are a major structural design driver. However, prediction and mitigation of peak blade loads is challenging, because the aerodynamic, structural, and controls problems are coupled nonlinearly. An efficient computational tool is vital to analyze these types of problems early in the design process, before structural designs are frozen and full-blown computational fluid dynamics and finite element analysis are performed. The goal of the present research is to develop and validate a numerical "rapid prototyping" tool to aid in the aerodynamic and structural design of large wind turbine systems.

About the Speaker

Dr. Brenden Epps is a postdoctoral research associate at the MIT Sea Grant Design Lab.  He received his bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2001 and subsequently worked as a product development engineer for Ford Motor Company. He received his doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 2010, with research in experimental hydrodynamics and marine propeller design. He is the author of OpenProp, an open-source propeller and turbine design tool that has thousands of users worldwide.