Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Physics

Department

Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Richard Raspet

Second Advisor

Nathan Murray

Third Advisor

Josh Gladden

Relational Format

dissertation/thesis

Abstract

Wind gusts cause substantial damage to wind turbines. If these damaging winds could be detected prior to their interaction with the turbine, the turbine rotor can be decoupled from the generator and gearing system to prevent damage during the gust event. This would significantly reduce wind turbine repair costs. Wind gusts can also create unsafe conditions for aircraft landing. A ground based detection system that monitored elevated wind gusts can provide new information for pilots to use when determining whether or not it is safe to land. In addition, the ability to monitor elevated gust events would provide a new probe to study features in the atmospheric boundary layer. Previous research indicates that elevated velocity events, such as gusts, may trigger pressure fluctuations on the ground. If that is true, it should be possible to monitor elevated wind gusts by measuring these pressure fluctuations. The goal of this project is to develop a ground based detector that monitors the behavior of pressure fluctuations on the ground for indicators that a gust event may be taking place at higher altitudes. In order to recognize these indicators from the pressure measurements on the ground, cross-correlation analysis between the time evolution of the frequency structures corresponding to elevated wind gusts and the pressure on the ground below were investigated. The data for these analysis was generated using a large eddy simulation. This numerical approach was chosen because the nature of the cross-correlation analysis demanded full field wind velocities and pressures at several altitudes. Collecting this data outdoors would be impractical. Correlation coefficients between 0.75 - 0.90 were found. These high correlations indicate that the two signals are causally related. Several common features of the pressures caused by elevated gusts were identified. These features were used to develop a tracking program that monitors fast moving high amplitude pressure fluctuations and to design a ground based pressure sensing array. The array design and tracking software was used to identify several new gust events within the simulated atmosphere. In total, eight gust events have been identified. These events show that the group velocities of the pressure fluctuations measured on the ground increase with the altitude location of the corresponding wind gust source. The methods, tracking software, and array design are ready to be used for experimental research outdoors.

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