Effect of Blade Surface Contamination on Wind Turbine Energy Production

Research projects

Project Description:

The Project

This project aims to use CFD analysis and wind tunnel testing to assess the effects that sand-induced leading edge erosion and sand adhesion to wind turbine blades has on energy production.

Leading Edge Erosion of wind turbine blades, caused by rain, hail and particulate impacts, can significantly affect the aerodynamic performance of blades and reduce the energy yield of turbines. Recent results have shown that the progression of erosion and the reduction in Annual Energy Production can be modelled with good accuracy. As offshore wind energy becomes more widely deployed, the impact of atmospheric sand on turbine performance becomes more important. In desert regions and offshore sites close to desert areas, airborne sand adheres to turbine blades and also causes leading edge erosion. The mechanisms and effects of sand adhesion and erosion are less well understood than rain induced effects.

This project will use field data on sand adhesion and sand-induced erosion of turbine blades as inputs to computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models in order to assess the effect of these phenomena on the lift and drag of typical aerofoil sections. The results of these numerical models will be validated through wind tunnel testing of appropriate scaled blade sections. The resulting aerodynamic performance changes will be combined with wind resource data to estimate the effect of sand on annual energy production and this will be compared to field data for full scale turbines. Applicants for this project should have experience of computational fluid dynamics. Experience of wind tunnel testing would be an advantage but is not essential.


Training and Skills

The student will be trained in CFD methods and development of appropriate wind tunnel testing methods. Career opportunities include: offshore wind farm planning and development; development of blade leading edge protection systems; Operations and Maintenance planning in industry or in academia.



Duffy, A., Ingram, G. and Hogg, S. (2022) ‘The Significance of Bypass Transition on the Annual Energy Production of an Offshore Wind Turbine’, Wind Energy, 25 (4). pp. 772-787

For an informal discussion, call +44 (0) 1482 463331
or contact auracdt@hull.ac.uk