Sensitivity Analysis of an Unsteady Flow Around a Pitching Airfoil




wind-turbine, airfoil, sensitivity analysis


Various ways to control the loads and thus the output of the wind turbine by pitching the blades and by controlling the rotational speed already exist. However, adverse pressure gradient leading to flow separation at the trailing edge, with relatively high angles of attack (AOA) due to blade-pitching motion, largely affects the airfoil aerodynamic performance. This work presents the results of a numerical study of the unsteady flow around a pitching FFA-W3-301 airfoil at a Reynolds 1.6 × 106 using OpenFOAM®, as obtained by first performing 2D Unsteady Reynolds-Averaged Navier- Stokes (URANS) simulations whereby the flow characteristics are simulated by the shear stress transport (SST) k − ω model and Spalart-Allmaras (SA). The influence of various parameters on the numerical results is investigated, namely y+, computational grid resolution, dynamic mesh technique, time step and turbulence model. Integral aerodynamic forces and detailed flow patterns are compared with experimental measurements presented in the literature. A range of angles of attack, including early stalls, are examined. For best-performing parameters, an adequate refinement close to the wall was imperative in order to match experiments, especially during the upstroke motion of the airfoil, while for the downstroke phase, some differences still appeared. The agreement was greatly improved by using a 2.5D hybrid RANS-LES approach with enhanced delayed-Detached Eddy Simulation (DES) capabilities.

Additional Files



How to Cite

Añez, J., Hamdani, H., Reveillon, J., Duret, B., & Demoulin, F.-X. (2023). Sensitivity Analysis of an Unsteady Flow Around a Pitching Airfoil. OpenFOAM® Journal, 3, 177–199.



Full Papers