Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) can be difficult to control in the outdoor environment as they fly at relatively low speeds and are of low mass, yet exposed to high levels of freestream turbulence present within the Atmospheric Boundary Layer. In order to examine transient flow phenomena, two turbulence conditions of nominally the same longitudinal integral length scale (Lxx/c = 1) but with significantly different intensities (Ti = 7.2 % and 12.3 %) were generated within a wind tunnel; time-varying surface pressure measurements, smoke flow visualization, and wake velocity measurements were made on a thin flat plate airfoil. Rapid changes in oncoming flow pitch angle resulted in the shear layer to separate from the leading edge of the airfoil even at lower geometric angles of attack. At higher geometric angles of attack, massive flow separation occurred at the leading edge followed by enhanced roll up of the shear layer. This lead to the formation of large Leading Edge Vortices (LEVs) that advected at a rate much lower than the mean flow speed while imparting high pressure fluctuations over the airfoil. The rate of LEV formation was dependent on the angle of attack until 10° and it was independent of the turbulence properties tested. The fluctuations in surface pressures and consequently aerodynamic loads were considerably limited on the airfoil bottom surface due to the favorable pressure gradient.
Experiments in Fluids – Springer Journals
Published: May 22, 2012
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