Model-scale experiments of passive pitch control for tidal turbines

Stefano Gambuzza, Gabriele Pisetta, Thomas Davey, Jeffrey Steynor, Ignazio Maria Viola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Tidal currents are renewable and predictable energy sources that could prove fundamental to decrease dependency from fossil fuels. Tidal currents, however, are highly unsteady and non uniform, resulting in undesirable load fluctuations on the blades and the drive train of turbines. A passive morphing blade concept capable to reduce the load fluctuations without affecting the mean loads has recently been formulated and demonstrated with numerical simulations (Pisetta et al., 2022). In this paper, we present the first demonstration of this morphing blade concept, through experimental tests on a 1.2 m diameter turbine. We show that fluctuations in the root-bending moment, thrust and torque are consistently reduced over a broad range of tip-speed ratios. This work also highlights some critical design aspects of morphing blades. For instance, it is showed that the friction resistance can substantially decrease the effectiveness of the system and thus must be minimised by design. Overall this paper demonstrates for the first time the effectiveness of morphing blades for tidal turbines, paving the way to the future development of this technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-29
JournalRenewable Energy
Early online date16 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Fluid–structure interaction
  • Passive load control
  • Pitch control
  • Tidal turbine
  • Unsteady load mitigation


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