Wind-turbine blade rain and sand erosion, over long periods of time, can degrade the aerodynamic performance and therefore the power production. Computational analysis of the erosion can help engineers have a better understanding of the maintenance and protection requirements. We present an integrated method for this class of computational analysis. The main components of the method are the streamline-upwind/Petrov–Galerkin (SUPG) and pressure-stabilizing/Petrov–Galerkin (PSPG) stabilizations, a finite element particle-cloud tracking method, an erosion model based on two time scales, and the solid-extension mesh moving technique (SEMMT). The turbulent-flow nature of the analysis is handled with a Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes model and SUPG/PSPG stabilization, the particle-cloud trajectories are calculated based on the computed flow field and closure models defined for the turbulent dispersion of particles, and one-way dependence is assumed between the flow and particle dynamics. Because the geometry update due to the erosion has a very long time scale compared to the fluid–particle dynamics, the update takes place in a sequence of “evolution steps” representing the impact of the erosion. A scale-up factor, calculated in different ways depending on the update threshold criterion, relates the erosions and particle counts in the evolution steps to those in the fluid–particle simulation. As the blade geometry evolves, the mesh is updated with the SEMMT. We present computational analysis of rain and sand erosion for a wind-turbine blade strip, including a case with actual rainfall data and experimental aerodynamic data for eroded airfoil geometries.
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