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Despite increasing concern about low-frequency noise of modern large horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs), few studies have focused on its origin or its prediction methods. In this paper, infra- and low-frequency (the ILF) wind turbine noise are closely examined and an efficient method is developed for its prediction. Although most previous studies have assumed that the ILF noise consists primarily of blade passing frequency (BPF) noise components, these tonal noise components are seldom identified in the measured noise spectrum, except for the case of downwind wind turbines. In reality, since modern HAWTs are very large, during rotation, a single blade of the turbine experiences inflow with variation in wind speed in time as well as in space, breaking periodic perturbations of the BPF. Consequently, this transforms acoustic contributions at the BPF harmonics into broadband noise components. In this study, the ILF noise of wind turbines is predicted by combining Lowson’s acoustic analogy with the stochastic wind model, which is employed to reproduce realistic wind speed conditions. In order to predict the effects of these wind conditions on pressure variation on the blade surface, unsteadiness in the incident wind speed is incorporated into the XFOIL code by varying incident flow velocities on each blade section, which depend on the azimuthal locations of the rotating blade. The calculated surface pressure distribution is subsequently used to predict acoustic pressure at an observing location by using Lowson’s analogy. These predictions are compared with measured data, which ensures that the present method can reproduce the broadband characteristics of the measured low-frequency noise spectrum. Further investigations are carried out to characterize the IFL noise in terms of pressure loading on blade surface, narrow-band noise spectrum and noise maps around the turbine.


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