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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 746319, 18 pages
Research Article

A Hybrid Metaheuristic-Based Approach for the Aerodynamic Optimization of Small Hybrid Wind Turbine Rotors

1Chair for Wind Energy, Department of Physics, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Eugenio Garza Sada 2501 Sur, 64849 Monterrey, NL, Mexico
2School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Avenida Universidad s/n. Ciudad Universitaria, 66451 San Nicolás de los Garza, NL, Mexico
3Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at San Antonio, One UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA
4Chair for Evolutionary Computation, Department of Computer Science, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Eugenio Garza Sada 2501 Sur, 64849 Monterrey, NL, Mexico
5Wind Energy Division, Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Technical University of Denmark, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark

Received 16 April 2014; Accepted 10 July 2014; Published 28 August 2014

Academic Editor: Yang Xu

Copyright © 2014 José F. Herbert-Acero 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 work presents a novel framework for the aerodynamic design and optimization of blades for small horizontal axis wind turbines (WT). The framework is based on a state-of-the-art blade element momentum model, which is complemented with the XFOIL 6.96 software in order to provide an estimate of the sectional blade aerodynamics. The framework considers an innovative nested-hybrid solution procedure based on two metaheuristics, the virtual gene genetic algorithm and the simulated annealing algorithm, to provide a near-optimal solution to the problem. The objective of the study is to maximize the aerodynamic efficiency of small WT (SWT) rotors for a wide range of operational conditions. The design variables are (1) the airfoil shape at the different blade span positions and the radial variation of the geometrical variables of (2) chord length, (3) twist angle, and (4) thickness along the blade span. A wind tunnel validation study of optimized rotors based on the NACA 4-digit airfoil series is presented. Based on the experimental data, improvements in terms of the aerodynamic efficiency, the cut-in wind speed, and the amount of material used during the manufacturing process were achieved. Recommendations for the aerodynamic design of SWT rotors are provided based on field experience.