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Flow over a Wing with Leading-Edge Undulations

Skillen, A., Revell, A., Pinelli, A. , Piomelli, U. & Favier, J. (2015). Flow over a Wing with Leading-Edge Undulations. AIAA Journal, 53(2), pp. 464-472. doi: 10.2514/1.j053142


The stall-delaying properties of the humpback whale flipper have been observed and quantified in recent years, through both experimental and numerical studies. In the present work, numerical simulations of an infinite-span wing with an idealized representation of this geometry are reported at a Reynolds number of 1.2×10(to the power of 5). Using large-eddy simulation, an adequate spatial resolution is first established before also examining the spanwise extent of the domain. These results are then analyzed to provide an explanation of the conditions that drive the lift observed beyond the conventional stall angle. The undulating leading-edge geometry gives rise to a spanwise pressure gradient that drives a secondary flow toward the regions of minimum chord. In turn, this leads to the entrainment of higher-momentum fluid into the region behind the maximum chord, which energizes the boundary layer and delays stall. Aside from demonstrating a significant poststall lift, the undulations also have the added benefit of substantially reducing lift fluctuations.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright AIAA 2015
Subjects: T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Engineering
SWORD Depositor:
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