Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Scott E. Palo

Second Advisor

Julie Lundquist

Third Advisor

Ken Jansen

Fourth Advisor

Sedat Biringen

Fifth Advisor

Pat Moriarty


Wind turbine acoustic noise has been the subject of significant research in recent decades due to rapid growth in the wind energy industry. Available space with a reliable wind resource and that does not reside near populated areas is becoming extremely scarce, particularly in Europe. This decline in available space then results in a heightened need for wind turbine designs to be optimized for both acoustic emission and power-performance. Due to highly variable operating conditions, wind turbine acoustic noise emission may deviate from design levels, causing irritation to local residents and requiring reduced power production of the contributing turbines. The objective of this dissertation is to investigate two parameters that contribute to this variability--atmospheric turbulence in the inflow field, and aerodynamic flow separation--such that they may be more fully understood and properly accounted for in design. Results are achieved through an extensive experimental campaign on a full-scale turbine equipped with a thorough sensor network. Several novel flow characterization methods are developed, including a method of in-situ turbulence measurement using blade-mounted accelerometers. Turbulent inflow noise is shown to dominate the low frequency portion of the emitted spectrum for normal turbine operation and increases levels by as much as 6 dB for the conditions observed at the research facility. Experimental observations are typically within 2-3 dB of a commonly implemented noise prediction model. Finally, a study into the effects of high angle of attack operation shows that aerodynamic flow separation--detected using static pressure sensors along one blade of the turbine---can increase overall noise levels by more than 10 dB, thus dominating turbulent inflow noise at low frequencies. The studies of both turbulent inflow noise and flow separation noise represent the most thorough experimental observations and analysis of the respective noise mechanisms on a full-scale wind turbine.