Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The simulation of the turbulent and potentially separating flow around a rotating, twisted, and tapered airfoil is a challenging task for CFD simulations. This thesis describes CFD simulations of the NREL Phase VI turbine that was experimentally characterized in the 24.4m X 36.6m NREL/NASA Ames wind tunnel. All computations in this research are performed on the experimental base configuration of 0o yaw angle, 3o tip pitch angle, and a rotation rate of 72 rpm. The significance of specific mesh resolution regions to the accuracy of the CFD prediction is discussed. The ability of CFD to capture bulk quantities, such as the low speed shaft torque, and the detailed flow characteristics, such as the surface pressure distributions, are explored for different inlet wind speeds. Finally, the significant three-dimensionality of the boundary layer flow is demonstrated.

First Advisor

J. Blair Perot