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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2018 / April 

Virginia Tech mechanical engineering student receives Fulbright research grant

April 18, 2018

Adam Wise
Adam Wise, a mechanical engineering student who graduates this spring, has received a Fulbright research grant to study wake meandering of floating wind turbines in Norway.

A year of study abroad in Sweden gave Adam Wise a glimpse of Scandinavia. Now, Wise will have another 10 months to see the area after having earning a Fulbright research grant.

Wise, a native of Chantilly, Virginia, and a senior in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, will use the Fulbright to conduct research on wake meandering of floating wind turbines at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway.

“I started my application in the spring of last year and over the summer developed a proposal with Erin Bachynski, an associate professor in NTNU’s Department of Marine Technology,” said Wise.

Wise met Bachynski through his supervisor during an internship at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a Department of Energy facility in Colorado.

“I said I was interested in working with her and told her I’d like to write a Fulbright proposal,” said Wise. “Because my background worked well with her group, she showed me what she was working on and I created a proposal to look at aerodynamic wake meandering of floating wind turbines.”

Wake meandering looks at the corkscrew airflows that come off the blades of large wind turbines. In the same way ships make wakes in the water, wind turbines create airflow wakes that create turbulence, negatively affecting turbines located in close proximity to each other (typical for wind farms), decreasing the efficiency of the unit.

Wise will use a 10-megawatt turbine developed by the Technical University of Denmark to refine numerical models of the air as it comes off the blades.

“I want to characterize how the wakes adversely affect floating wind turbines,” explained Wise. “Because the turbines are offshore, the airflow recovers less quickly than land-based turbines, and when you add in the heaving, pitching, and rolling motions induced by the waves, wake meandering can have a significant impact on the energy output of downwind turbines.”

Currently, there is only one floating wind farm in operation, off the coast of Scotland, with turbines built by a company in Norway. However, Wise believes the technology will be the future for this type of renewable energy.

“Because these turbines can be installed in deep water, it opens up areas off the U.S. west coast that are too deep for traditional fixed-bottom turbines, such as those currently off the coast of Rhode Island,” said Wise.

When he finishes the Fulbright program, Wise said he is planning to continue his studies in graduate school, but hasn’t yet decided where he will go.

“I’d like to take a couple of classes in Norway since NTNU is considered a leader in this floating turbine technology, and then make my graduate school decision later," said Wise. "The Fulbright grant will be a great opportunity for me to conduct research at one of the leading technical universities in Europe.”

The Global Education Office, a unit of Outreach and International Affairs, oversees the Fulbright Program at Virginia Tech and serves as a resource for student and faculty applicants. The student Fulbright competition is open now. For questions or more information on Fulbright programs, please contact Betty Anderson.

Written by Rosaire Bushey

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