Mechanism of supercooled water droplet breakup near the leading edge of an airfoil

Belen Veras-Alba, José Palacios, Mario Vargas, Charles Ruggeri, Tadas P. Bartkus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


This work presents the results of an experimental study on supercooled droplet deformation and breakup near the leading edge of an airfoil. The results are compared to prior room temperature droplet deformation results to explore the effects of droplet supercooling. The experiments were conducted in the Adverse Environment Rotor Test Stand (AERTS) at The Pennsylvania State University. An airfoil model placed at the end of the rotor blades mounted onto the hub in the AERTS chamber was moved at speeds ranging between 50 and 80 m/s. The temperature of the chamber was set at -20°C. A monotonic droplet generator was used to produce droplets that fell from above, perpendicular to the path of the airfoil. The supercooled state of the droplets was determined by measurement of the temperature of the drops at various locations below the droplet generator exit. A temperature prediction code was also used to estimate the temperature of the droplets based on vertical velocity and the distance traveled by droplets from the droplet generator to the airfoil stagnation line. High speed imaging was employed to observe the interaction between the droplets and the airfoil. The high speed imaging provided droplet deformation information as the droplet approached the airfoil near the stagnation line. A tracking software program was used to measure the horizontal and vertical displacement of the droplet against time. It was demonstrated that to compare the effects of water supercooling on droplet deformation, the ratio of the slip velocity and the initial droplet velocity must be equal. A case with equal slip velocity to initial velocity ratios was selected for room temperature and supercooled droplet conditions. The airfoil velocity was 60 m/s and the slip velocity for both sets of data was 40 m/s. In these cases, the deformation of the weakly supercooled and warm droplets did not present different trends. The similar behavior for both environmental conditions indicates that water supercooling has no effect on particle deformation for the limited range of the weak supercooling of the droplets tested and the selected impact velocity. The assumption of a constant surface tension value was further supported by the equal trend of the Bond number obtained for supercooled and room temperature droplets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication9th AIAA Atmospheric and Space Environments Conference, 2017
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9781624104961
StatePublished - 2017
Event9th AIAA Atmospheric and Space Environments Conference, 2017 - Denver, United States
Duration: Jun 5 2017Jun 9 2017

Publication series

Name9th AIAA Atmospheric and Space Environments Conference, 2017


Other9th AIAA Atmospheric and Space Environments Conference, 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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