Journal cover Journal topic
Wind Energy Science The interactive open-access journal of the European Academy of Wind Energy
Journal topic
Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 14 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 14 Oct 2019

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal WES.

Top Level Rotor Optimisations based on Actuator Disc Theory

Peter Jamieson Peter Jamieson
  • Centre for Doctoral Training in Wind and Marine Energy, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, G1 1XW, UK

Abstract. Ahead of the elaborate rotor optimisation modelling that would support detailed design, it is shown that significant insight and new design directions can be indicated with simple, high level analyses based on actuator disc theory. The basic equations derived from actuator disc theory for rotor power, axial thrust and out of plane bending moment in any given wind condition involve essentially only the rotor radius, R, and the axial induction factor, a. Radius, bending moment or thrust may be constrained or fixed with quite different rotor optimisations resulting in each case. The case of fixed radius or rotor diameter leads to conventional rotor design and the long-established result that power is maximised with an axial induction factor, a = 1 / 3. When the out of plane bending moment is constrained to a fixed value with axial induction variable in value (but constant radially) and when rotor radius is also variable, an optimum axial induction of 1 / 5 is determined. This leads to a rotor that is expanded in diameter 11.6 % gaining 7.6 % in power and with thrust reduced by 10 %. This is the “low induction rotor” which has been investigated by Chaviaropoulos (2013). However, with an optimum radially varying distribution of axial induction, the same 7.6 % power gain can be obtained with only 6.7 % expansion in rotor diameter. When without constraint on bending moment, the thrust is constrained to a fixed value, the power is maximised as a → 0 which for finite power extraction would require R → ∞. This result is relevant when secondary rotors are used for power extraction from a primary rotor. To avoid too much loss of the source power available from the primary rotor, the secondary rotors must operate at very low induction factors whilst avoiding too high a tip speed or an excessive rotor diameter. Some general design issues of secondary rotors are explored. It is suggested that they may have most practical potential for large vertical axis turbines avoiding the severe penalties on drive train cost and weight implicit in the usual method of power extraction from a central shaft.

Peter Jamieson

Interactive discussion

Status: open (extended)
Status: open (extended)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
[Subscribe to comment alert] Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Peter Jamieson


Total article views: 260 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total Supplement BibTeX EndNote
173 82 5 260 16 8 7
  • HTML: 173
  • PDF: 82
  • XML: 5
  • Total: 260
  • Supplement: 16
  • BibTeX: 8
  • EndNote: 7
Views and downloads (calculated since 14 Oct 2019)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 14 Oct 2019)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 149 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 148 with geography defined and 1 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1



No saved metrics found.


No discussed metrics found.
Latest update: 16 Feb 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Wind turbine rotors are usually designed to maximize power performance accepting whatever loading results. However from the most basic wind turbine theory, actuator disc theory, two other optimization paths are demonstrated which may lead to more cost effective technology – the low induction rotor where an expanded rotor diameter and some extra power is achieved without increasing the blade root bending moment and the secondary rotor which can provide a very low torque and low cost drive train.
Wind turbine rotors are usually designed to maximize power performance accepting whatever...