Numerical simulation of the loading characteristics of straight and helical-bladed vertical axis tidal turbines


Straight-bladed turbines exhibit higher maximum stress and deflection levels than helical turbines.

Maximum stress levels were found at the bottom blade-strut joints for both straight and helical-bladed turbines.

Maximum stress levels for straight and helical turbines were well below yield strength at an inflow velocity of 1.5 ms−1.


The stress and deflection of straight and helical-bladed vertical axis turbines was investigated using hydrodynamic and structural analysis models. Using Double Multiple Streamtube (DMS) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models, the hydrodynamic forces and pressures on the turbines were modelled for three rotational rates from startup to over speed conditions. The results from these hydrodynamic models were then used to determine stress and total deflection levels using beam theory and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) methods. Maximum stress and deflection levels were found when the blades were in the furthest upstream region, with the highest stresses found at the blade-strut joints for the turbines studied. The helical turbine exhibited on average 13% lower maximum stress levels than the straight-bladed turbine, due to the helical distribution of the blades around the rotational axis. All simulation models offered similar accuracy when predicting maximum blade stress and deflection levels; however for detailed analysis of the blade-strut joints the more computationally demanding CFD-FEA models were required. Straight-bladed, rather than helical turbines, are suggested to be more suited for tidal installations, as for the same turbine frontal area they produce higher power output with only 13% greater structural stress loading.


  • Vertical axis turbine;
  • Structural loading;
  • Stress and deflection;
  • Computational fluid dynamics;
  • Finite element analysis

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