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Journal of Renewable Energy
Volume 2014, Article ID 172461, 10 pages
Research Article

Computational Actuator Disc Models for Wind and Tidal Applications

1School of Computing Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK
2Thornton Science Park, University of Chester, Parkgate Road, Chester, Cheshire CH1 4BJ, UK

Received 7 June 2014; Accepted 7 September 2014; Published 29 October 2014

Academic Editor: Tarek Ahmed-Ali

Copyright © 2014 B. Johnson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper details a computational fluid dynamic (CFD) study of a constantly loaded actuator disc model featuring different boundary conditions; these boundary conditions were defined to represent a channel and a duct flow. The simulations were carried out using the commercially available CFD software ANSYS-CFX. The data produced were compared to the one-dimensional (1D) momentum equation as well as previous numerical and experimental studies featuring porous discs in a channel flow. The actuator disc was modelled as a momentum loss using a resistance coefficient related to the thrust coefficient (). The model showed good agreement with the 1D momentum theory in terms of the velocity and pressure profiles. Less agreement was demonstrated when compared to previous numerical and empirical data in terms of velocity and turbulence characteristics in the far field. These models predicted a far larger velocity deficit and a turbulence peak further downstream. This study therefore demonstrates the usefulness of the duct boundary condition (for computational ease) for representing open channel flow when simulating far field effects as well as the importance of turbulence definition at the inlet.