Institute of Physics & ForWind
Prof. Dr. Joachim Peinke
Room, W33 3-302
The deterministic description of nature on the basis of differential equations is often presented as an outstanding result of the physics of the 19th century, i.e. classical physics, while the development of quantum structures is considered as a great success of the physics of the 20th century.
However, the basic principles of classical physics have not solved all the problems of the latter. In particular, it has been recognized in recent decades that nonlinearities in classical problems can lead to unexpected phenomena. For example, how spatial structures or temporal chaos spontaneously form due to nonlinearities is of current interest. One of the great challenges of "nonlinear classical physics" is the description of turbulence. The descriptive equations of motion of turbulence have been known for over 100 years. Nevertheless, to date, neither modern theoretical approaches nor numerical simulations on the largest computers available have succeeded in describing turbulence accurately. The interplay between chaos and spatial structure formation , as seen, for example, in the fascinating phenomena of cloud structure, continues to impede progress in this research area to this day.
A highly topical application field for turbulence research, on which we are currently working very intensively, is wind energy conversion. Wind turbines represent one of the most important renewable energy systems. Especially here in northern Germany, this form of energy plays a significant role and has now led to many well-known industrial activities. Typically, wind turbines are located in places with high wind speeds. Because of their proximity to the ground, these turbines are subject to particularly strong wind turbulence. The effects of these turbulent winds are well known from landing approaches in bad weather. Unlike aircraft, which always try to avoid turbulence, wind turbines in continuous operation must withstand this wind turbulence. Unknown turbulence characteristics, for example, result in indeterminate material loads that can lead to unexpected failures or unnecessary costs.