You are on page 1of 18

A Visual Investigation of Flow around Objects

By





Robert P. Skeehan
902990644






Aero 3130, group 1, Section C
Auburn University
September 2, 2013
ii

Abstract
A smoke tunnel was used to observe airflow around a cylinder, an infinite wing, a
wing tip, and a scale wing, and from these observations, conclusions about the
characteristics of the airflow were drawn. The streamlines of the airflow around the airfoil
and wingtip were recorded at an angle of attack of 0, 15, and 30. A cylinder was used
to view airflow moving around a smooth circular object. Sandpaper was then placed on the
cylinder, and a comparison was made. The sandpaper acted as a turbulator, and the
transition point was moved slightly upstream. The scale wing was used to observe the
effects of both the airfoil and the wingtip simultaneously. Wing wash, separation,
turbulence, and wake could be observed behind the trailing edge of the wing.

iii

Table of Contents
Abstract................................................................................................................................ii
Nomenclature......................................................................................................................iv
List of Figures......................................................................................................................v
Introduction..........................................................................................................................1
Description of Relevant Theory...........................................................................................2
Description of Test Equipment and Procedure.....................................................................3
Results and Discussion.........................................................................................................4
Conclusions..........................................................................................................................7
References Page...................................................................................................................8
Figures..................................................................................................................................9



iv

Nomenclature
...................................................................................................................Angle of Attack
V........................................................................................................Free Stream Velocity

v

List of Figures
Figure 1: Infinite Laminar Cylinder....................................................................................9
Figure 2: Turbulent Cylinder...............................................................................................9
Figure 3: Infinite wing, = 0...........................................................................................10
Figure 4: Infinite wing, = 15.........................................................................................10
Figure 5: Infinite wing, = 30.........................................................................................11
Figure 6: Wingtip, = 0...................................................................................................11
Figure 7: Wingtip, = 15.................................................................................................12
Figure 8: Wingtip, = 30.................................................................................................12
Figure 9: Full Wing....................................................................................... ....................13
Figure 10: Stall...................................................................................................................13

1

Introduction
The smoke tunnel is an extraordinary piece of equipment. Since the 1980s, the
smoke tunnel has assisted researchers and engineers in viewing streamlines and flow
around various objects. Now, smoke tunnels still use the same basic approach to observe
various flow phenomena. The smoke tunnel at Auburn University involves a basic wind
tunnel, a smoke generator, and an injection system. [1]
In this investigation, 4 objects will be placed in the smoke tunnel: A cylinder, an
air foil, a wingtip, and a scale wing. These objects were used to compare several different
flow characteristics: Wing wash, separation, streamlines, buffeting, and wake.

2

Discussion of Relevant Theory
A streamline is a path traced out by a massless particle moving with the flow. [2]
Streamlines will be regular and parallel with one another all points in an undisturbed flow.
Laminar flow is flow where a given streamline maintains a smooth, regular path
across a given distance. This flow has a lower viscosity and more shallow velocity profile
than a turbulent flow. The laminar flow is more susceptible to separation due to an adverse
pressure gradient.
Turbulent flow is flow where fluid motion consists of eddies. These flows have a
higher skin friction than the laminar counterpart. A streamline in a turbulent flow will
diffuse and follow the individual eddies it comes in contact with.
The static pressure gradient means the derivative of pressure with respect to
distance. The streamwise static pressure gradient means the change in pressure along a
given streamline. If the pressure increases along a given streamline, then it is
encountering an adverse pressure gradient, and if the pressure decreases, then it is called
a favorable pressure gradient. [3]
Vortices are caused by the adverse pressure gradient at the edge of a given wing.
The high pressure beneath the wing moves to the low pressure above the wing.
3

Description of Test Equipment and Procedure
Four models were tested and photographed in a smoke tunnel. The streamlines are
revealed by heating the oil and the smoke was pulled into the viewing window by the lower
pressure, moving air. The models were tested by mounting them in the tunnel and turning
the machine on. Results are taken by making observations about the pathway of the
streamlines as they flowed around the models.
4

Results and Discussion
Initially, the infinite cylinder was placed in the smoke tunnel. The flow began to
transition to turbulent flow .25 past the 90 line as seen in Figure 1. Beyond the separation
point, an oscillating wake appeared between 4 and 8 inches behind the cylinder. As V was
increased, the frequency of the wake increased proportionally to V while the magnitude
of the wake decreased. (Note: the viewing window of the wind tunnel was limited and
further investigation is needed to verify if the magnitude increases further downstream.)
Additionally, the point at which the oscillating wake began to form moved further back
proportionally to the V, up to an additional 12 inches behind the cylinder itself at the
maximum V.
The cylinder was then rotated 180 in order to expose the sandpaper as seen in
figure 2. The sand paper acted as a turbulator and thus caused the boundary layer to become
turbulent. This induction of turbulence naturally resulted in the transition point being
moved forward to .25 ahead of the 90 line, indicating a difference of 15as observed in
Figure 2. Oscillations observed behind the cylinder were slightly closer to the cylinder
than the oscillations of the laminar cylinder counter-part, appearing about 3-7 inches
behind the cylinder.
The infinite airfoil at = 0 had only a very small amount of turbulence as observed
in figure 3. The streamlines ahead of the leading edge are almost identical to those of the
trailing edge. The turbulent flow can be observed from 1.5 ahead of the trailing edge to
up to 5 behind the trailing edge.
The airfoil was then rotated up 15 as shown in Figure 4. At this , one is able to
observe the effects of viscous flow around the airfoil. Beneath the leading edge, the
5

streamlines begin sloping upward toward the leading edge before following the surface of
the underside to the trailing edge in a laminar fashion. On the upper surface, the streamlines
encounter an adverse pressure gradient and began to transition into a state of turbulent flow
2 from the leading edge. Furthermore, flow separation was observed 2 from the trailing
edge. The area of turbulent flow between the upper surface of the airfoil and laminar flow
above is known as the bubble during the bubble point as shown in Figure 10.
At = 30, the airfoil was in full stall. As seen in figure 5, large amounts of
turbulent flow and flow separation was observed up to within an inch of the leading edge.
This is because the adverse pressure gradient is even more severe than the = 15 airfoil.
The wing tip was then placed into the smoke tunnel at = 0. As the wing tip had
a mean camber line which was different than the cord of the profile, the wingtip possessed
some amount of lift. This lift resulted in a vortex being formed, beginning 2 ahead of the
trailing edge as seen in figure 6. This vortex was thin, possessing a radius of only .5 at
most.
At = 15, the vortex became more prominent with a radius of 1.25 and starting
only .5 behind the 90 line as seen in figure 7. The more prominent vortex represents a
larger loss in lift as more air slips from beneath the wing.
When = 30, the vortex began to form only 1 behind the leading edge of the wing
tip. Furthermore, it grew until it had a diameter of 3.5 as observed in figure 8. This
represents a very large pressure difference between the upper and lower surfaces of the
wingtip. At 5 behind the trailing edge, the vortex deteriorates into a standard turbulent
flow. The large amount of non-laminar flow would result in buffeting at the wingtip.
6

Finally, the wing was placed in the smoke tunnel. There, the effects of the previous
2 models could be observed simultaneously. Furthermore, the turbulent flow appearing
about halfway down the length of the chord is known as downwash and does not provide
the most noticeable lift. At the wingtip, vortices can be observed coming off of the edge of
each side. Another observation one could make is the fact that the vortices seem to migrate
away from the centerline of the wing. The reason one can observe the downwash on this
wing, which was not observed on the infinite airfoil, is because the wing has camber to it,
which leads to a pressure difference between the top and bottom. [4] The high pressure air
beneath the wing was drawn up and around the trailing edge into the fast moving, low
pressure air. The downwash was naturally erratic in nature and would result in buffeting.
7

Conclusions
Various aerodynamic phenomena can be observed via a smoke tunnel. As the air
flows around various objects, the smoke reveals the trajectory a given particle in the flow
will take. The streamlines also are able to reveal various flow phenomena such as wake,
The cylinder showed that a symmetric object in a flow would cause oscillations
downstream. The addition of sandpaper to the cylinder caused the separation and stagnation
points to change and move upstream. A higher free stream velocity would cause the
oscillations behind the cylinder to move more rapidly.
As the angle of attack was increased, the transition point of the flow was moved
nearer to the leading edge. The stall angle of the airfoil in the wind tunnel was 15 because
there was no flow attachment on the upper surface of the airfoil. More prominent vortices
were formed when a larger angle of attack was instigated on the wingtip, which reduced
lift.
As the angle of attack of the airfoil and the wingtip was increased, the transition
point was moved up along the chord of the airfoil. Vortices were also observed forming
along the trailing edge of the wingtip. Vortices along a wingtip indicate a loss of lift.
The scale wing was used to observe the effects of both the airfoil and the wingtip
simultaneously. Wing wash, turbulence, and wake could be observed behind the trailing
edge of the wing.


8

References
Merzkirch, W. (1987). Flow visualization (2nd ed.). Orlando: Academic Press.
Definition of Streamlines. (n.d.). NASA. Retrieved September 5, 2013, from
http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/k-12/airplane/stream.html
Ahmed, A. (2013). Aerodynamics Laboratory (2013 ed.). Auburn: Auburn University.
AL0966B LESSON 2. (n.d.). GlobalSecurity.org - Reliable Security Information.
Retrieved September 4, 2013, from
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/accp/al0966/le2.htm
Wake turbulence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Wake turbulence. Retrieved
September 4, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wake_turbulence



9

Figures and Tables

Figure 1: Infinite Laminar Cylinder

Figure 2: Turbulent Cylinder
10


Figure 3: Infinite wing, = 0

Figure 4: Infinite wing, = 15
11


Figure 5: Infinite wing, = 30

Figure 6: Wingtip, = 0
12


Figure 7: Wingtip, = 15

Figure 8: Wingtip, = 30

13


Figure 9: Full Wing


Figure 10: Stall [4]