The influence of turbulence model and two and three-dimensional domain selection on the simulated performance characteristics of vertical axis tidal turbines


2D CFD models cannot capture blade tip and strut effects.

3D CFD models can now accurately capture turbine power output.

k-ω SST turbulence models provide the closest agreement with experimental results.

Transition flow modeling is computationally demanding and only increases simulation accuracy at high rotational rates.

BSL-RSM and k-ω SST Wall Function models poorly simulate power output.


The influence of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling techniques on the accuracy of fixed pitch vertical axis turbine power output predictions was investigated. Using Two-Dimensional (2D) and Three-Dimensional (3D) models, as well as the Baseline-Reynolds Stress Model (BSL-RSM) and the k-ω Shear Stress Transport (k-ω SST) model in its fully turbulent and laminar-to-turbulent formulation, differences in power output modeling accuracy were evaluated against experimental results from literature. The highest correlation was found using a 3D domain model that fully resolved the boundary layer combined with the k-ω SST laminar-to-turbulent model. The turbulent 3D fully resolved boundary layer k-ω SST model also accurately predicted power output for most rotational rates, at a significantly reduced computational cost when compared to its laminar-to-turbulent formulation. The 3D fully resolved BSL-RSM model and 3D wall function boundary layer k-ω SST model were found to poorly simulate power output. Poor output predictions were also obtained using 2D domain k-ω SST models, as they were unable to account for blade tip and strut effects. The authors suggest that 3D domain fully turbulent k-ω SST models with fully resolved boundary layer meshes are used for predicting turbine power output given their accuracy and computational efficiency.


  • Vertical axis turbine;
  • Computational fluid dynamics;
  • Turbulence model;
  • Computational domain;
  • Laminar-to-turbulent transition

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