Skip to main content

Flow Control Devices for Wind Turbines

Part of the Lecture Notes in Energy book series (LNEN,volume 37)


The following chapter provides an overview about available knowledge, references and investigations on the active and passive flow control devices, initially developed for aeronautic industry that are currently being investigated and introduced on wind turbines. The main goal pursued with the introduction of these devices is to delay the boundary layer separation and enhance/suppress turbulences. The aim is to achieve a lift enhancement, drag reduction or flow-induced noise reduction among other parameters. However, achieving these goals present some issues, because the improvement of one of these parameters may suppose an undesired effect in another. For this reason it is necessary to study in detail each one of these devices, their operating concept, applications and their main advantages and drawbacks. Depending on the flow control nature, devices can be classified as actives or passives. Passive techniques allow to improve the performance of the wind turbines without external energy expenditure whereas active techniques require external energy for their activation. There are a lot of devices and in this chapter there have been compiled some of the most important ones, both passives devices (Vortex Generators , Microtabs, Spoilers, Fences, Serrated trailing edge) and actives devices (Trailing edge flaps, Air Jet Vortex Generators, Synthetic Jets).


  • Wind turbine
  • Flow control
  • Passive devices
  • Active devices
  • Cost of energy
  • Energy efficiency

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-49875-1_21
  • Chapter length: 27 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   149.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-49875-1
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   279.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 21.1
Fig. 21.2
Fig. 21.3
Fig. 21.4
Fig. 21.5
Fig. 21.6
Fig. 21.7
Fig. 21.8
Fig. 21.9
Fig. 21.10
Fig. 21.11
Fig. 21.12
Fig. 21.13
Fig. 21.14
Fig. 21.15
Fig. 21.16
Fig. 21.17
Fig. 21.18
Fig. 21.19
Fig. 21.20
Fig. 21.21
Fig. 21.22
Fig. 21.23
Fig. 21.24



Actuator Vortex Generator


Active Flow Control


Air Jet Vortex Generator


Computational Fluid Dynamics


Cost of Energy


Delay Stall


Degree of Freedom


Danmarks Tekniske Universitet


Energy Wind Energy Association


Finite Element Method


Vortex Generator


Leading Edge


Mid Chord


Multidisciplinary Design Optimization


National Renewable Energy Laboratory


Operation and Maintenance


Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes


Reference Wind Turbine


Shear Stress Transport


Trailing Edge


Pulsed Vortex Generator Jet

EC :

Kinetic Energy





CL :

Lift Coefficient

CD :

Drag Coefficient






Angle of Attack








  1. The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) (2015) Wind in power: European statistics.

  2. The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) (2015) Global wind statistics 2015.

  3. Johnson SJ, Van Dam CP, Berg DE (2008) Active load control techniques for wind turbines. Sandia National Laboratories. doi:10.2172/943932

  4. Committee on Assessment of Research Needs for Wind Turbine Rotor Materials Technology (1991) Assessment of research needs for wind turbine rotor materials technology. National Academy Press, Washington

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  5. Poore R, Lettenmaier T (2003) Alternative design study report: WindPACT advanced wind turbine drive train designs study. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. doi:10.2172/15004456

  6. Wood RM (2002) A discussion of aerodynamic control effectors (ACEs) for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). Paper presented at AIAA’s 1st technical conference and workshop on unmanned aerospace vehicle, systems, technologies and operations, Portsmouth, 20–23 May 2002. doi:10.2514/6.2002-3494

  7. Corten GP (2007) Vortex blades, oral presentation, WindPower 2007, Los Angeles

    Google Scholar 

  8. Taylor HD (1947) The elimination of diffuser separation by vortex generators. United Aircraft Corporation Report No. R-4012-3

    Google Scholar 

  9. Fernandez-Gamiz U, Velte CM, Réthoré PE, Sørensen NN, Egusquiza E (2016) Testing of self-similarity and helical symmetry in vortex generator flow simulations. Wind Energy 19(6):1043–1052. doi:10.1002/we.1882

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  10. Pearcey HH (1961) Introduction to shock induced separation and its prevention by design and boundary layer control. In: Lachmann GV (ed) Boundary layer and flow control. Its principles and applications, vol 2. Pergamon Press, Oxford, pp 1170–1355. doi:10.1016/B978-1-4832-1323-1.50021-X

  11. Godard G, Stanislas M (2006) Control of a decelerated boundary layer. Part 1: optimization of passive vortex generators. Aerosp Sci Technol 10(3):181–191. doi:10.1016/j.ast.2005.11.007

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  12. Bender EE, Anderson BH, Yagle PJ (1999) Vortex generator modeling for Navier-Stokes codes. In: 3rd ASME/JSME joint fluids engineering conference, San Francisco, 18–23 July 1999

    Google Scholar 

  13. Jirásek A (2005) Vortex-generator model and its application to flow control. J Aircr 42(6):1486–1491. doi:10.2514/1.12220

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  14. Fernandez-Gamiz U, Réthoré PE, Sørensen NN, Velte CM, Zahle F, Egusquiza E (2012) Comparison of four different models of vortex generators. In: Proceedings of EWEA 2012—European wind energy conference & exhibition. European Wind Energy Association (EWEA)

    Google Scholar 

  15. Velte CM, Okulov VL, Hansen MOL (2011) Alteration of helical vortex core without change in flow topology. Phys Fluids 23(5):051707. doi:10.1063/1.3592800

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  16. Zamorano-Rey G, Garro B, Fernandez-Gamiz U, Zulueta-Guerrero E (2015) A computational study of the variation of the incidence angle in a vortex generator. DYNA New Technol 2(1):1–13. doi:10.6036/NT7357

    Google Scholar 

  17. Øye S (1995) The effect of vortex generators on the performance of the ELKRAFT 1000 kW turbine. In: 9th IEA symposium on aerodynamics of wind turbines, Stockholm

    Google Scholar 

  18. Miller GE (1984) Comparative performance tests on the Mod-2, 2.5-MW wind turbine with and without vortex generators. In: DOE/NASA workshop on horizontal axis wind turbine technology, Cleveland

    Google Scholar 

  19. Bak C, Bitsche R, Yde A, Kim T, Hansen MH, Zahle F, Gaunaa M, Blasques JPAA, Døssing M, Wedel H, Jens J, Behrens T (2012) Light rotor: the 10-MW reference wind turbine. In: Proceedings of EWEA 2012—European wind energy conference & exhibition. European wind energy association (EWEA)

    Google Scholar 

  20. Bak C, Zahle F, Bitsche R, Kim T, Yde A, Henriksen LC, Hansen MH, Blasques JPAA, Gaunaa M, Natarajan A (2013) The DTU 10-MW reference wind turbine, Danish Wind Power Research, Fredericia, 27 May 2013

    Google Scholar 

  21. Troldborg N, Zahle F, Sørensen N (2015) Simulation of a MW rotor equipped with vortex generators using CFD and an actuator shape model. In: 53rd AIAA aerospace sciences meeting, AIAA SciTech. doi:10.2514/6.2015-1035

  22. Wilcox DC (2006) Turbulence modeling for CFD. DCW Industries, La Cañada

    Google Scholar 

  23. Menter FR (1993) Zonal two equation k-ω turbulence models for aerodynamic flows. AIAA J. paper 93-2906. doi:10.2514/6.1993-2906

  24. Chow R, Van Dam CP (2006) Unsteady computational investigations of deploying load control microtabs. J Aircr 43(5):1458–1469. doi:10.2514/1.22562

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  25. Yen DT, Van Dam CP, Bräuchle F, Smith RL, Collins, SD (2000) Active load control and lift enhancement using MEM translational tabs. In: Proceedings of the fluids conference and exhibit, Denver, 19–22 June 2000. doi:10.2514/6.2000-2242

  26. Tsai KC, Pan CT, Cooperman AM, Johnson SJ, Van Dam CP (2015) An innovative design of a microtab deployment mechanism for active aerodynamic load control. Energies 8(6):5885–5897. doi:10.3390/en8065885

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  27. Oerlemans S, Fisher M, Maeder T, Kögler K (2009) Reduction of wind turbine noise using optimized airfoils and trailing-edge serrations. AIAA J 47(6):1470–1481. doi:10.2514/1.38888

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  28. Stiesdal H, Enevoldsen PB (2003) Flexible serrated trailing edge for wind turbine rotor blade. European Patent Office, EP 1 314 885 B1, 28 May 2003

    Google Scholar 

  29. Howe M (1991) Noise produced by a sawtooth trailing edge. J Acoust Soc Am 90(1):482–487. doi:10.1121/1.401273

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  30. Oerlemans S, Schepers J, Guidati G, Wagner, S (2001) Experimental demonstration of wind turbine noise reduction through optimized airfoil shape and trailing-edge serrations. In: Proceedings of the European wind energy conference and exhibition, Copenhagen, 2–6 July 2001

    Google Scholar 

  31. Quell P, Petsche M (2009) Rotor blade for a wind power station. US Patent 7,585,157 B2, 8 Sept 2009

    Google Scholar 

  32. Chow R, Van Dam CP (2011) Inboard stall and separation mitigation techniques on wind turbine rotors. In: 49th AIAA aerospace sciences meeting including the new horizons forum and aerospace exposition, Orlando, 4–7 January 2011. doi:10.2514/6.2011-152

  33. Lenz K, Fuglsang P (2008) Wind turbine having a spoiler with effective separation of airflow. European Patent Office, EP 2 141 358 A1, 12 Dec 2008

    Google Scholar 

  34. Wallis RA (1960) A preliminary note on a modified type of air jet for boundary layer control. Aeronautical Research Council, Current-Paper 513, London

    Google Scholar 

  35. Johnston J, Nishi M (1990) Vortex generator jets–a means for passive and active control of boundary layer separation. AIAA J 28(6):989–994. doi:10.2514/3.25155

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  36. Compton DA, Johnston JP (1992) Streamwise vortex production by pitched and skewed jets in a turbulent boundary layer. AIAA J 30(3):640–647. doi:10.2514/3.10967

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  37. James RD, Jacobs JW, Glezer A (1996) A round turbulent jet produced by an oscillating diaphragm. Phys Fluids 8(9):2484–2495. doi:10.1063/1.869040

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  38. Pechlivanoglou G (2013) Passive and active flow control solutions for wind turbine blades. Dissertation, Technische Universitat Berlin

    Google Scholar 

  39. Seifert A, Bachar T, Koss D, Shepshelovich M, Wygnanski I (1993) Oscillatory blowing: a tool to delay boundary-layer separation. AIAA J 31(11):2052–2060. doi:10.2514/3.49121

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  40. Donovan JF, Kral LD, Cary AW (1998) Active flow control applied to an airfoil. In: 36th AIAA aerospace sciences meeting and exhibit, Reno, Nevada. doi:10.2514/6.1998-210

  41. Krohn S, Morthorst PE, Awerbuch S (2009) The economics of wind energy, a report by the European wind energy association.

Download references


I would like to take the opportunity to thank Dr. Unai Fernandez Gamiz, from Nuclear Engineering and Fluid Mechanics Department of University of the Basque Country of Vitoria-Gasteiz, for his support for the performance of this chapter, and his willingness to share bibliography, time and knowledge. This work was supported by both the Government of the Basque Country and the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU through the SAIOTEK (S-PE11UN112) and EHU12/26 research programs, respectively.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Iñigo Aramendia .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 Springer International Publishing AG

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Aramendia, I., Fernandez-Gamiz, U., Ramos-Hernanz, J.A., Sancho, J., Lopez-Guede, J.M., Zulueta, E. (2017). Flow Control Devices for Wind Turbines. In: Bizon, N., Mahdavi Tabatabaei, N., Blaabjerg, F., Kurt, E. (eds) Energy Harvesting and Energy Efficiency. Lecture Notes in Energy, vol 37. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-49874-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-49875-1

  • eBook Packages: EnergyEnergy (R0)