Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Russell Westphal


The development and evaluation of the design of a Micro-Ram Air Turbine (µRAT), a device being developed to provide power for an autonomous boundary layer measurement system, has been undertaken. The design tools consist of a rotor model and a generator model. The primary focus was on developing and evaluating the generator model for the prediction of generator brake power and output electrical power with and without rectification as a function of shaft speed and electrical load, with only basic manufacturer specifications given as inputs. A series of motored generator evaluation test were conducted at speeds ranging from 9,000 to 25,000 rpm for loads varying between 1 and 3.02 Ohms with output power of up to 80 Watts. Results demonstrated that predicted generated power was at or below 3% error when compared to measured results with about 1% uncertainty. A rotor model was also developed using basic blade element theory. This model neglected induced flow effects and was therefore expected to over predict rotor torque and power. A second rotor model that includes induced flow effects, the open source program X-Rotor, was also used to predict rotor power and for comparison to the blade element rotor model results. Both rotor models were evaluated through wind tunnel validation tests conducted on a turbine generator with two different 3.25 in diameter rotors, rotor-1 (untwisted blades) and rotor-2 (twisted blades). Wind tunnel validation test airspeeds varied between 71-110 mph with electrical loads ranging from 1-20 ohms. Results indicated power predictions to be 50-75% higher for the blade element model and 20-30% for X-Rotor results. The blade element rotor model was modified by applying the Prandtl tip-loss factor to approximately account for the induced flow effects; this addition brought predictions much closer to X-Rotor results. Based on the motor-driven generator test results, it is believed that most of the discrepancy in baseline rotor/generator validation test between predicted and observed power generated is due to inaccuracy in the rotor performance modelling with likely contributors to error being induced flow effects, crude section lift/drag modelling, and aero-elastic deformation. It is concluded that the proposed generator model is sufficient although direct torque measurements may be desired and further development of the µRAT design tools should focus on an improved rotor performance model.