Numerical investigation of the effect of airfoil thickness on onset of dynamic stall

Thumbnail Image
Sharma, Anupam
Visbal, Miguel
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit
Journal Issue
Is Version Of
Aerospace Engineering

Effect of airfoil thickness on onset of dynamic stall is investigated using large eddy simulations at chord-based Reynolds number of 200 000. Four symmetric NACA airfoils of thickness-to-chord ratios of 9 %, 12 %, 15 % and 18 % are studied. The three-dimensional Navier–Stokes solver, FDL3DI is used with a sixth-order compact finite difference scheme for spatial discretization, second-order implicit time integration and discriminating filters to remove unresolved wavenumbers. A constant-rate pitch-up manoeuver is studied with the pitching axis located at the airfoil quarter chord. Simulations are performed in two steps. In the first step, the airfoil is kept static at a prescribed angle of attack (= 4 degrees). In the second step, a ramp function is used to smoothly increase the pitch rate from zero to the selected value and then the pitch rate is held constant until the angle of attack goes past the lift-stall point. The solver is verified against experiments for flow over a static NACA 0012 airfoil. Static simulation results of all airfoil geometries are also compared against XFOIL predictions with a generally favourable agreement. FDL3DI predicts two-stage transition for thin airfoils (9 % and 12 %), which is not observed in the XFOIL results. The dynamic simulations show that the onset of dynamic stall is marked by the bursting of the laminar separation bubble (LSB) in all the cases. However, for the thickest airfoil tested, the reverse flow region spreads over most of the airfoil and reaches the LSB location immediately before the LSB bursts and dynamic stall begins, suggesting that the stall could be triggered by the separated turbulent boundary layer. The results suggest that the boundary between different classifications of dynamic stall, particularly leading edge stall versus trailing edge stall, is blurred. The dynamic-stall onset mechanism changes gradually from one to the other with a gradual change in some parameters, in this case, airfoil thickness.


This article is published as Sharma, Anupam, and Miguel Visbal. "Numerical investigation of the effect of airfoil thickness on onset of dynamic stall." Journal of Fluid Mechanics 870 (2019): 870-900. DOI: 10.1017/jfm.2019.235.