Numerical optimisation of the active lift turbines using OpenFoam's overset method


  • Ilan Robin UMR 6143:M2C Morphodynamique Continentale et Côtière, France
  • Dominique Mouazé
  • Anne-Claire Bennis
  • Guillaume Carpentier



Renewable Energy, Active Lift Turbine, Numerical simulation, CFD, Overset, OpenFoam


This work presents a preliminary study of the numerical optimization of "active lift turbine" using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). This active lift turbine is designed to improve efficiency of vertical axis energy recovery turbines (wind and tidal turbines). It uses a crank rod system to convert normal forces into momentum in order to improve the yield.

After a validation work of CFD model in two dimensions, the numerical optimization of the tidal turbine system is carried out. In fact, due to the specific characteristics of the active lift turbine, the blades do not follow a circular trajectory (Fig. \ref{fig:combined}). The OpenFoam overset module is therefore chosen because it allows to control the motion of the blades easily \cite{Chalmers}. The Overset method allows a good performance evaluation and limits the risk of numerical divergence that could be caused by mesh deformation methods; Moreover it limits the computation time compared to remeshing methods. However, it is more expensive than a more traditional Arbitrary Mesh Interface method \cite{Openfoam}, which is not suitable for the active lift turbine simulations.

The impact of several parameters on the performances is studied. The simulations are performed for a range of operating conditions including different inflow velocities, angles of attack and active flow turbine settings (like the amplitude of the radius variation, see Fig \ref{fig:combined}). The results are evaluated in terms of the turbine power output and efficiency.

The results show the importance of numerical simulation for the development of new types of energy recovery systems. It allows a better understanding of the interactions between the turbine and the fluid, and of the operation of such systems.

Further studies are required for the active lift turbine: conventional attempts at optimisation are not perfectly suited to this system. Improving the lift/drag ratio makes less sense when the normal forces should also be taken into account to improves the performances.
Furthermore, other aspects of operation should be analysed: variation of the turbulence rate, implementation of boundary layer re-attachment systems...



How to Cite

I. Robin, D. Mouazé, A.-C. Bennis, and G. Carpentier, “Numerical optimisation of the active lift turbines using OpenFoam’s overset method”, Proc. EWTEC, vol. 15, Sep. 2023.