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Simulation environments such as WindMUSE enable new components and concepts to be tested on the computer within a few days in a time- and cost-effective manner. The subsequent phase on the test rig can then proceed with higher efficiency.
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Wind energy: New simulation environment

The test rig (front) in the laboratory. The simulation model can be seen on the left screen and the real-time data on the right screen.

CAD model of the test rig

A multi-body simulation model of the drive train

Virtual further development of system technology

A current challenge for the wind industry is to counter the economic pressures from the electricity market with innovative concepts. However, the route that needs to be taken until new turbines and components reach market maturity is long. In order to save time and expensive phases on the test rig, many investigations can be simulated in advance on the computer. The new WindMUSE simulation environment is multidisciplinary, integrates existing submodels using a common language and enables real-time testing. The aim is to depict wind turbines with a precision comparable to that customary in the aviation industry.

Higher towers, modified rotor blade concepts using lightweight designs and optimised adjustment devices, as well as new generator concepts and gearboxes are all examples of the directions in which wind turbine technology can evolve in future. All development lines are pursuing the goal of further improving the economic efficiency of wind power in order to meet the requirements of the electricity market. With powerful simulation models (frameworks), the new components and concepts can be tested cost- and time-effectively on the computer.

Research institutes at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) have developed the new “Wind Turbine in Multidisciplinary Simulation Environment (WindMUSE)” framework in conjunction with the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES). It integrates existing submodels and provides a uniform and tool-independent description language for wind turbines. The included submodels can simulate characteristic meteorological, aerodynamic and system-based loads in a realistic and multidisciplinary manner. These therefore help to test conceptual changes within a few days. One of the tools incorporated, for example, is OneWind developed by IWES, which enables the development of wind turbines and wind farms in various degrees of detail.

Holger Schumann, Project Manager at the DLR Institute of Flight Systems: “Combining differently powerful simulation tools enables wind turbines to be viewed in a holistic manner. However, it is quite complicated to link tools to simulation work flows. WindMUSE facilitates the handling of such work flows with the aid of DLR's RCE tool, and the uniform description language also makes it easier to configure the tools.”

Turbulence in the computer

Simulations in the WindMUSE environment, for example for new blades, gearboxes, control devices and generators, are automated and calculate a variety of load cases. New components can be integrated in real time. Meteorological parameters include, for example, the mapping of convective boundary layers and low-level jets. This therefore also enables the influence of mountain chains and forests to be simulated. All inflow conditions and turbulences can be varied with high precision in both temporal and spatial terms across 360 degrees. The dynamic and elastic effects on rotor blades and towers as well as on shafts and gears are also included in the calculations.

The developers designed the framework so that components stored in its own system-immanent library and the simulation tools used are interchangeable. The uniform description language ensures both the transparency of the detailed results and the flexibility required for further developing the turbine technology.

Synergies with aviation

A key goal of the research project was to enable wind turbines to be depicted with a precision comparable to that customary in the aviation industry. The developers have integrated the proven S4 simulation tool into WindMUSE. S4 enables isolated helicopter rotors to be simulated in the computer. The aerodynamics can map effects caused by compressibility, cross flow and dynamic stalling. The DLR Institute of Flight Systems developed S4.

The original version of the tool has been adapted for wind energy. Variable-speed rather than constant-speed calculations are now possible and it also takes into account tower dam effects, dynamic wind fields and moving hubs.

Wind Energy Research Platform

The WindMUSE simulation environment is available for tests by companies and research institutes. In future the model will be continuously validated by integrating real measured values. Holger Schumann explains the range of services: “In conjunction with the future Wind Energy Research Platform, the WindMUSE simulation environment will make it possible to simulate and validate wind energy technologies and, ultimately, better understand the impacts and relationships in the overall wind turbine system.”

The Wind Energy Research Platform, which is currently being set up, will for the first time enable the scientific community to fully validate the simulation results under real conditions and with unprecedented accuracy. DLR, IWES and the ForWind research partnership are developing this platform together. The research project will provide a globally unique basis for the holistic research and development of wind turbine technology. It is set to be concluded by the end of 2020 and has extensive measuring equipment on two multi-megawatt wind turbines, four met masts and in the field, including with acoustic measuring technology. Another highly modifiable experimental turbine is designed to enable experiments with technologies and components at an early stage of development.



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Project management
DLR, Standort Braunschweig

Cooperation partners
Fraunhofer IWES