Honors College Thesis


Direct Numerical Simulation of a Flat Wing with a Movable Front Flap at High Angles of Attack and Low Reynolds Numbers Public Deposited

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  • Low Reynolds number airfoils have become of interest recently for applications on Micro-air Vehicles (MAVs). Airfoils at low Reynolds numbers and high angles of attack are known to be unstable due to low lift to drag ratios. This study investigates the effect of a movable leading edge flap on the lift to drag ratio of an airfoil for use on MAVs. Direct numerical simulation (DNS) is used to fully resolve the flow around a thin airfoil at high angles of attack. The airfoil is represented numerically using a fictitious domain approach and assuming two-dimensional flow. The solver is validated using the standard case of a cylinder in cross-flow. Preliminary experimental data for the lift of the airfoil compares well with the numerical results for two angles of attack. Cases were run at a Reynolds number of 14,700 and an angle of attack of 20 degrees to study the effect of the front flap at a static angle and the effect of an oscillating front flap. Lowering the front flap to an angle of 20 degrees increased the lift to drag ratio to 5.84 compared to 2.47 for the no flap case. Cases with a moving front flap were run at 1, 3, and 5 Hz. The flapping motion caused the time-varying lift coefficient to become more predictable and periodic. The presence of lift and drag fluctuations is found to depend on how vortices are shed from the leading edge of the airfoil.
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