Measurements of bluff body wake flow around a conformable flow control surface

David A. Ericson, Michael Jonson, Gary Koopmann

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The vortex street is a unique type of unsteady flow separation seen commonly in flow over a bluff body with a characteristic periodic wake. A consequence of the periodic flow is that the drag and lift forces acting on the body also oscillate periodically. When the wake shedding frequency is near a structural frequency, flow induced resonance will occur. The continuing interest in the study of vortex street generation is propelled by the ever-present nature of these flows in a variety of applications including aerodynamics, hydrodynamics and underwater acoustics. Recent advances in material science and the development of high power density actuators have led to the study of adaptive structure technology wherein the vorticity of periodic flows can be actively controlled by changing the 'bluffness' or shape of the body. In this paper, the development and experimental testing of a two-dimensional shape-variable flow control surface are discussed in relation to the generation and manipulation of periodic flow separation. Two series of wind tunnel tests were designed to evaluate the potential of the morphing structure that replaced a section of the trailing edge of a symmetric airfoil. The test section successfully demonstrated a smooth transition between three prescribed trailing edge profiles ranging from sharp to blunt. Unsteady pressure spectra were measured near the trailing edge for three different shape profiles over a range of speeds between 50 and 110 ft/s. The measured pressure spectra amplitudes were compared to previously-published surface pressure spectra of a similar, two-dimensional, blunt edge foil. A second set of tests was performed to measure the resulting flow field in the direction transverse to the flow and downstream from the airfoil. Velocity measurements were made using a traversing hot-wire probe at three trailing edge configurations and speeds of 50, 70 and 90 ft/s. The corresponding Reynolds number based on wake thickness ranged from 3.9 - 9.8 × 104. Measured vortex shedding frequencies varied between approximately 50 to 130 Hz at the different trailing edge profiles. This type of change in the vortex shedding frequency can be used to reduce flow-induced vibration and its associated noise generation by avoiding shedding frequencies at operating speeds that coincide with airfoil resonances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003
Event2003 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress - Washington, DC., United States
Duration: Nov 15 2003Nov 21 2003


Other2003 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWashington, DC.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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