Unsteady hydrodynamics of tidal turbine blades

Gabriel Thomas Scarlett, Ignazio Maria Viola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tidal turbines encounter a range of unsteady flow conditions, some of which may induce severe load fluctuations. Rotor blades can experience stall delay, load hysteresis and dynamic stall. Yet, the range of flow conditions which cause these effects for a full-scale axial-flow turbine are unclear. In this work we carry out a parameter study across a range of flow conditions by modelling root bending moment responses. We show how unsteadiness manifests along the span of the blade, the unsteady phenomena occurring and the conditions which induce the most significant load fluctuations. We find that waves and turbulence are the main sources of unsteadiness, and that extreme waves dominate over extreme turbulence. A yaw misalignment increases the load fluctuations but reduces the maximum peak. Large yaw angles, low tip-speed ratios, and very large waves lead to dynamic stall increasing the mean loads. Conversely, added mass effects mostly attenuate the loadings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-855
Number of pages13
JournalRenewable Energy
Early online date29 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • Dynamic stall
  • Fatigue loading
  • Tidal energy
  • Turbulence-induced loading
  • unsteady hydrodynamics
  • Wave-induced loading

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