Large eddy simulations of a model scale tidal turbine encountering inflow turbulence have been performed. This has allowed both unsteady blade loading and hydrodynamic noise radiation to be predicted. The study is motivated by the need to assess environmental impact of tidal devices, in terms of their acoustic impact on marine species.
Inflow turbulence was accounted for using a synthetic turbulence generator, with statistics chosen to represent the gross features of a typical tidal flow. The turbine is resolved in a fully unsteady manner using a sliding interface technique within the OpenFOAM® libraries. Acoustic radiation is estimated using a compact source approximation of the Ffowcs Williams–Hawkings equation.
It is observed that the long streamwise length scale of the inflow turbulence results in characteristic ‘humps’ in the turbine thrust and torque spectra. This effect is also evident in the far-field noise spectra. The acoustic sources on the blades are visualised in terms of sound pressure level and “Powell's source term”. These measures show that the dominant sources are concentrated at the blade leading edges towards the tip. This results from the high loading of the turbine blades, and causes the sound to radiate more akin to a monopole than a dipole.
The full scale source level, obtained from scaling of the simulation results, is found to be lower than comparable measured data reported in the literature; this is attributed to additional sources not included in the present study. Based on the predicted source level, no physical impact on fish is expected.