# 4.2.4.1. Introduction

BeamDyn is a time-domain structural-dynamics module for slender structures created by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) through support from the U.S. Department of Energy Wind and Water Power Program and the NREL Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program through the grant “High-Fidelity Computational Modeling of Wind-Turbine Structural Dynamics”, see References [WJSJ15, WS13, WSJJ14, WYS13]. The module has been coupled into the FAST aero-hydro-servo-elastic wind turbine multi-physics engineering tool where it used to model blade structural dynamics. The BeamDyn module follows the requirements of the FAST modularization framework, see References [Jon13]; [GSJ13, JJ13, SJJ14], couples to FAST version 8, and provides new capabilities for modeling initially curved and twisted composite wind turbine blades undergoing large deformation. BeamDyn can also be driven as a stand-alone code to compute the static and dynamic responses of slender structures (blades or otherwise) under prescribed boundary and applied loading conditions uncoupled from FAST.

The model underlying BeamDyn is the geometrically exact beam theory
(GEBT) [Hod06]. GEBT supports full geometric
nonlinearity and large deflection, with bending, torsion, shear, and
extensional degree-of-freedom (DOFs); anisotropic composite material
couplings (using full \(6 \times 6\) mass and stiffness matrices,
including bend-twist coupling); and a reference axis that permits blades
that are not straight (supporting built-in curve, sweep, and sectional
offsets). The GEBT beam equations are discretized in space with Legendre
spectral finite elements (LSFEs). LFSEs are *p*-type elements that
combine the accuracy of global spectral methods with the geometric
modeling flexibility of the *h*-type finite elements (FEs)
[Pat84]. For smooth solutions, LSFEs have
exponential convergence rates compared to low-order elements that have
algebraic convergence [SG03, WS13] .
Two spatial numerical integration schemes are implemented for the finite
element inner products: reduced Gauss quadrature and trapezoidal-rule
integration. Trapezoidal-rule integration is appropriate when a large
number of sectional properties are specified along the beam axis, for
example, in a long wind turbine blade with material properties that vary
dramatically over the length. Time integration of the BeamDyn equations
of motion is achieved through the implicit generalized- \(\alpha\)
solver, with user-specified numerical damping. The combined GEBT-LSFE
approach permits users to model a long, flexible, composite wind turbine
blade with a single high-order element. Given the theoretical foundation
and powerful numerical tools introduced above, BeamDyn can solve the
complicated nonlinear composite beam problem in an efficient manner. For
example, it was recently shown that a grid-independent dynamic solution
of a 50-m composite wind turbine blade and with dozens of cross-section
stations could be achieved with a single \(7^{th}\)-order LSFE
[WSJJ16].

When coupled with FAST, loads and responses are transferred between BeamDyn, ElastoDyn, ServoDyn, and AeroDyn via the FAST driver program (glue code) to enable aero-elasto-servo interaction at each coupling time step. There is a separate instance of BeamDyn for each blade. At the root node, the inputs to BeamDyn are the six displacements (three translations and three rotations), six velocities, and six accelerations; the root node outputs from BeamDyn are the six reaction loads (three translational forces and three moments). BeamDyn also outputs the blade displacements, velocities, and accelerations along the beam length, which are used by AeroDyn to calculate the local aerodynamic loads (distributed along the length) that are used as inputs for BeamDyn. In addition, BeamDyn can calculate member internal reaction loads, as requested by the user. Please refers to Figure [fig:FlowChart] for the coupled interactions between BeamDyn and other modules in FAST. When coupled to FAST, BeamDyn replaces the more simplified blade structural model of ElastoDyn that is still available as an option, but is only applicable to straight isotropic blades dominated by bending. When uncoupled from FAST, the root motion (boundary condition) and applied loads are specified via a stand-alone BeamDyn driver code.

The BeamDyn input file defines the blade geometry; cross-sectional
material mass, stiffness, and damping properties; FE resolution; and
other simulation- and output-control parameters. The blade geometry is
defined through a curvilinear blade reference axis by a series of key
points in three-dimensional (3D) space along with the initial twist
angles at these points. Each *member* contains at least three key points
for the cubic spline fit implemented in BeamDyn; each member is
discretized with a single LSFE with a parameter defining the order of
the element. Note that the number of key points defining the member and
the order (\(N\)) of the LSFE are independent. LSFE nodes, which are
located at the \(N+1\) Gauss-Legendre-Lobatto points, are not evenly
spaced along the element; node locations are generated by the module
based on the mesh information. Blade properties are specified in a
non-dimensional coordinate ranging from 0.0 to 1.0 along the blade
reference axis and are linearly interpolated between two stations if
needed by the spatial integration method. The BeamDyn applied loads can
be either distributed loads specified at quadrature points, concentrated
loads specified at FE nodes, or a combination of the two. When BeamDyn
is coupled to FAST, the blade analysis node discretization may be
independent between BeamDyn and AeroDyn.

This document is organized as follows. Section Running BeamDyn details how to obtain the BeamDyn and FAST software archives and run either the stand-alone version of BeamDyn or BeamDyn coupled to FAST. Section Input Files describes the BeamDyn input files. Section Output Files discusses the output files generated by BeamDyn. Section BeamDyn Theory summarizes the BeamDyn theory. Section Future Work outlines potential future work. Example input files are shown in Appendix Section 4.2.4.8.1. A summary of available output channels is found in Appendix BeamDyn List of Output Channels.