Ocean current energy is at an early stage of development — a vital component in that is the design and analysis of turbine blades that would be used to generate the power. The ocean current turbine (OCT) is similar in function to wind turbines, capturing energy through the processes of hydrodynamic, rather than aerodynamic, lift or drag. OCT operates on many of the same principles as wind turbines and share similar design philosophies. NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) has extensively investigated the design of wind turbine blades over the years and many codes have been developed. It is meaningful and prudent to take advantage of those codes and use them in the design of OCT blades. Currently available codes such as FoilCheck, PreComp, BModes, AeroDyn, FAST, etc. provides an excellent dynamic analysis of hollow composite wind turbine blades. Since OCT blades have PVC foam as core materials inside the skin, NREL codes could not be used directly. These core materials for the blade were necessary to fulfill the buoyancy requirement at ocean depth. A set of methods was therefore developed to design and analyze OCT blades where most of NREL codes could be utilized. The methods are as follows: DesignFOIL was first used to generate hydrofoil geometry (coordinates), and lift and drag coefficients for selected blade sections. FoilCheck was then used to calculate hydrofoil data for the entire range of ±180°. FoilCheck output files were later used as input for AeroDyn. In the next step, PreComp computed the section properties for the hollow composite OCT blade. Section properties of the core material such as extensional stiffness, flexural rigidity, and torsional rigidity were calculated separately and added to the properties computed by PreComp. Mode shapes and frequencies of OCT blades were computed using BModes. AeroDyn calculated the hydrodynamic lift and drag forces for the hydrofoil sections along the blade. In AeroDyn input file, kinematic viscosity, density and velocity were set to the values of seawater @ 1.05×10−6 m2/sec, 1025 kg/m3, and 1.7 m/s, respectively. Finally, FAST was used to obtain the dynamic response of three-bladed, conventional, horizontal-axis OCT. However, this analysis did not provide any stress calculations. In order to perform stress analysis, NuMAD code developed by Sandia National Laboratory was incorporated in the method. This allowed us to create ANSYS input files. Loads calculated by AeroDyn were then transported to ANSYS and a complete stress analysis was performed. Critical regions of stress concentration were identified — opening up an opportunity for materials failure and fatigue analysis. In summary, coupling of NREL codes, NuMAD, and ANSYS revealed a path way to achieve comprehensive design and analyses of OCT blades.

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