An aeroelastic computer-aided engineering (CAE) tool for horizontal axis wind turbines

by Jason Jonkman, Ph.D.
National Wind Technology Center

FAST is NREL's primary CAE tool for simulating the coupled dynamic response of wind turbines. FAST joins aerodynamics models, hydrodynamics models for offshore structures, control and electrical system (servo) dynamics models, and structural (elastic) dynamics models to enable coupled nonlinear aero-hydro-servo-elastic simulation in the time domain. The FAST tool enables the analysis of a range of wind turbine configurations, including two- or three-blade horizontal-axis rotor, pitch or stall regulation, rigid or teetering hub, upwind or downwind rotor, and lattice or tubular tower. The wind turbine can be modeled on land or offshore on fixed-bottom or floating substructures. FAST is based on advanced engineering models--derived from fundamental laws, but with appropriate simplifications and assumptions, and supplemented where applicable with computational solutions and test data.

The aerodynamic models use wind-inflow data and solve for the rotor-wake effects and blade-element aerodynamic loads, including dynamic stall. The hydrodynamics models simulate the regular or irregular incident waves and currents and solve for the hydrostatic, radiation, diffraction, and viscous loads on the offshore substructure. The control and electrical system models simulate the controller logic, sensors, and actuators of the blade-pitch, generator-torque, nacelle-yaw, and other control devices, as well as the generator and power-converter components of the electrical drive. The structural-dynamics models apply the control and electrical system reactions, apply the aerodynamic and hydrodynamic loads, adds gravitational loads, and simulate the elasticity of the rotor, drivetrain, and support structure. Coupling between all models is achieved through a modular interface and coupler.

Germanischer Lloyd issued a certificate of evaluation for FAST in 2005.

We are currently converting FAST to a new Modularization Framework. For the most recent alpha version of FAST, developed under this framework, please see the FAST v8 web site.

We currently support the following versions of FAST:

  • FAST v7
    The last version of FAST released without the Modularization Framework.
  • FAST v8
    The most recent alpha version of FAST, developed using the Modularization Framework.
  • Seismic
    A version of FAST v7 with routines for simulating seismic loading.
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NWTC Information Portal (FAST). Last modified 19-March-2015 ; Accessed 23-April-2017