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Filios a Etal_2002_Numerical Simulation of Subsonic Wind Tunnels-A Preliminary Approach

Filios a Etal_2002_Numerical Simulation of Subsonic Wind Tunnels-A Preliminary Approach

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Published by Andronikos Filios
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Published by: Andronikos Filios on Oct 19, 2008
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4
th
GRACM Congress on Computational MechanicsGRACM 2002Patras, 27-29 June, 2002© GRACM
NUMERICAL SIMULATION OF SUBSONIC WIND TUNNELS:A PRELIMINARY APPROACH
Andronicos E. Filios
1
, Dionissios P. Margaris
2
, Athanasios G. Bouras
1
,Maria K. Koukou
3
, Nicolaos W. Vlachakis
3
 
1
ASETEM/SELETE., Researcher in Fluid Mechanics Lab., Mechanical Engineering andAeronautics Department, University of Patras, 26500 Patras, Greece, e-mail:afilio@tee.gr  
2
Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics Department,University of Patras, 26500 Patras, Greece, e-mail:margaris@mech.upatras.gr  
3
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Technological Educational Institution of Chalkida,34400, Psachna, Greece, e-mail:koukosan@otenet.gr &vlachakis@teihal.gr  
Keywords:
Wind tunnel, contraction, screen, numerical prediction.
Abstract.
The numerical investigation of the flow in a subsonic wind tunnel of circular cross section is presented. The considered geometry comprises the settling chamber with one wire screen, the contraction and the working section, as they are common in all tunnels despite of the type of circuit, i.e. open or closed. Thecomputation of the steady incompressible flow field is based on the solution of the Navier-Stokes equationsapplying the finite volume method provided by a commercial code. The performed computations provide velocityand pressure profiles along and across the tunnel centerline. The aim is the development of a CFD techniquethat will serve flow quality predictions in a subsonic wind tunnel. Moreover it can be used for the correlation of experimental data with available theories or design methods.
1 INTRODUCTION
Despite of the rapid expansion in the area of the computational fluid dynamics, the wind tunnel remains anessential tool in engineering, both for model tests and basic research. The main aim when designing any windtunnel is the production of a steady flow with spatial uniformity in the test section over a range of Reynoldsnumber. This requirement can never be perfectly attained since there are always present small eddies of varyingsize and intensity which are collectively described as the turbulence of the air stream. The wind tunnel fan, thecorner guide vanes and the upstream walls are the main sources of the test section turbulence.A more than seventy years experience in wind tunnel design and testing proves that the settling chamber andcontraction combination helps to accomplish the uniform low turbulence field in the test section. The degree of achievement of the required flow quality depends on the various flow manipulators (i.e. honeycomb, screens)installed in the settling chamber as well as on the area ratio and the shape of the contraction. Based on certainassumptions, various theories and empirical formulas have been proposed for computing the effect of flowmanipulators and contraction on the intensity and uniformity of turbulent flow. Theoretical and experimentalinvestigations regarding the effect both of screens and the contraction on the characteristics of the turbulent flowhave been carried out from the decade of 30’s. The most representative studies regarding the effect of screensare those by Prandtl
[1]
, Dryden and Schubauer 
[2]
, and Taylor and Batchelor 
[3]
. The effect of contraction onturbulence studied theoretically, by Prandtl
[1]
, Taylor 
[4]
, Ribner and Tucker 
[5]
, and Batchelor and Proudman
[6]
.According to the reported studies, the quenching action of the screen on the turbulence velocity fluctuations isrelated to the magnitude of the screen resistance coefficient that depends on its porosity and the Reynoldsnumber. In the case of few screens followed by a contraction with a medium area ratio, the comparison of measurements and calculations indicate a reasonable agreement.The aim of the research work is the development and validation of a computational fluids dynamic modelthat will be served as a flow quality predictor for various combinations of screens–contractions and moreover itcan be used for the correlation of experimental data or design methods. Preliminary results from the applicationof the developed model to the computation of the steady incompressible flow field in a settling chamber-contraction-test section arrangement of the NBS wind tunnel
[2]
are presented and discussed. The computation is based on the solution of the Navier-Stokes equations applying the finite volume method embodied in thecommercial code Phoenics. 
 
Andronicos E. Filios , Dionissios P. Margaris , Athanasios G. Bouras, Maria K. Koukou , Nicolaos W. Vlachakis
 
2
 
PHYSICS ON THE FLOW MANIPULATION2.1 Settling chamber
 Screens have been used to improve flow quality in wind tunnels since 1930s. Firstly, Prandtl
[1]
gave a simpletheory regarding the contribution of screens in improving the velocity distribution. Dryden and Schubauer 
[2]
gave a physical explanation for the flow-manipulator role of the screen and they derived a simple theory for thereduction of turbulence intensity based on the assumption that the effect of a screen is partly to absorb thekinetic energy of turbulence. Taylor and Batchelor 
[3]
produced a detailed analysis of the effect of screens onsmall disturbance. Their theory is linearized on the assumption that there is negligible natural decay of turbulence while the field is translated through the ‘region of influences’. Batchelor 
[7]
, on the assumption of isotropic turbulence far upstream, showed that the equations for the factors of reduction of turbulence intensity become relatively easy to compute.Screens have three main effects on the flow passing through them: i) reduction of mean velocity variation-leading to prevention of, or delay in, boundary layer separation; ii) reduction of turbulent fluctuations and iii)refraction of inclined flow – towards the local normal to the screen. An overview of the various empiricalformulae that are applied for the calculation of the pressure loss coefficient (k 
s
) of a screen in terms of porosityof the screen and the Reynolds number is presented by Loehrke and Nagib
[8]
.
 
Prandtl
[1]
states that screens can be used to obtain a more uniform velocity distribution across the ductsection and that a moderate velocity difference is approximately lowered by the factor 1/(1+k 
s
). Dryden andSchubauer 
[2]
shown that the energy change across the screen is equated to the difference between the upstreamturbulent energy and the downstream turbulent energy. Since the turbulent velocity is proportional to the squareroot of the turbulent energy, the turbulent reduction factor becomes 1/(1+k 
s
)
0,5
. A direct comparison of theturbulence reduction factors proposed by the above theories and the correlation with measurements is providedin Refs. [8,9]. The installation of several screens in series, results to a reduction of the incoming turbulence ineach one by its turbulence factor. However, it must be kept in mind that beyond the screen, in addition to theturbulence passing through, there is also the turbulence created by the screen itself, the screen turbulence. Theturbulence generated by the last screen determines the minimum attainable turbulence in the entrance of thewind tunnel contraction.
2.2 Contraction
The contracting nozzle is placed upstream of the test section for two main reasons: a) It increases the flowmean velocity allowing the honeycomb and screens to be placed in the lower speed regions, thus reducing the pressure losses and the tunnel power factor. b) Both mean and fluctuating velocity variations are reduced to asmaller fraction of the average velocity at a given cross section. The most important single parameter indetermining these effects is the contraction ratio.The theoretical studies by Prandtl
[1]
, Taylor 
[4]
and Batchelor and Proudman
[6]
imply that the contractiondoes exert a selective effect on the rms components of the fluctuating velocity, i.e. the longitudinal component isreduced while the lateral components are increased. The investigation carried out by Klein and Ramjee
[10]
showsthat the shape of the contraction does not have significant influence on the turbulence intensities at the exit of the contraction. The published theories defining the turbulence level reduction in contractions are limited for axisymmetric configurations and while they have been partially correlated with results from 2-D and 3-Dgeometries they also be applied herein.
3 NUMERICAL INVESTIGATION OF THE FLOW IN A WIND TUNNEL3.1 The configuration studied
In this research work preliminary results from the application of the developed mathematical model tosimulate the steady incompressible flow field in the settling chamber-contraction-test section arrangement of the NBS 4,5 ft wind tunnel are presented. The NBS 4,5 ft is an early American closed circuit octagonal tunnelconstructed in Washington in 1918 by the National Bureau of Standards for research on air turbulence and boundary layer phenomena. The selection of that tunnel is due to the availability of published experimentaldata
[2]
, which are considered as reference and repeatedly have been used in wind tunnel design studies
[11]
. The 3-D geometry of the settling chamber-contraction-test section arrangement which has an octagonal cross section ina lack of simplicity for the present preliminary investigation is considered as ax-symmetric, i.e the cross sectionis a circle, and it is shown in figure 1. Stations 1, 2, 3 and 4 indicate the ends of each section. Station-i indicatesthe position of the wire screen and station-m indicates the position where experimental data regarding turbulenceintensities are available.
 
Andronicos E. Filios , Dionissios P. Margaris , Athanasios G. Bouras, Maria K. Koukou , Nicolaos W. Vlachakis
 
Figure 1: Tunnel layout for the numerical study (not in scale).
1234imU
z
u
m
Settling Chamber Contraction
 
Test Section
 
 Damping Screen
 
The contraction ratio is 6,6 and the inlet radius is 1,829m. Since no information was obtained regarding thecontraction geometry, the shape of the ax-symmetric contour was derived applying the method proposed byBoerger 
[12]
. The quality of the flow in section 1 depends on upstream conditions. It is noticeable that no bellmouth inlet is present. In fact, upstream of section 1, a 90 deg bend is present delivering the air stream from thereturn leg of the wind tunnel circuit. The upstream influence could be taking into account making useexperimental data.
3.2 The governing equations
A three dimensional curvilinear mesh has been used, the side view of which is shown in figure 2. The size of the grid used in the computations is 2x64x269. A grid independence study is currently conducting to investigatewhether further refinement will show change in the calculated results. The flow and transport of air in the windtunnel is described through the conservation equations of mass, and momentum in a three-dimensionalcurvilinear grid, under steady state conditions. As turbulence plays a major role in the whole process, it isdescribed by using an adequate turbulence model in which the kinetic energy of turbulence, k, and its dissipationrate, e, are solved as explained in the following section. The generalized conservation equation for any variableof interest,
Φ
, is
[13-15]
:
ΦΦ
ΦΓΦρ
S=grad+vdiv
(1)where
ρ
is the density (equal to 1,2kg.m
-3
), v
 
is the velocity vector,
Φ
Γ
is the effective exchange coefficient of variable
Φ
 
and
Φ
Sis the source/sink term expressing the production/consumption of 
Φ
inside the domain of interest.
Φ
Γ
is equal to
Γ
Φ
=
Γ
Φ
l
+
Γ
Φ
t
, where the
Γ
Φ
l
and
Γ
Φ
t
refer to laminar and turbulent flow respectively. Inthe momentum equations,
Φ
Γ
 
is equal to the mixture viscosity µ (kinematic viscosity
 ν
is equal to 1,5 ·10
-5
m
2
.s
-1
). The term
Φρ
vdiv
 
expresses the transfer of the quantity
Φ
due to convection with the fluid and the term
ΦΓ
Φ
graddiv
 
expresses the transfer of 
Φ
due to diffusion.
Figure 2: Side view of the computational grid used in the simulations.
 
3.3 Turbulence modeling
Turbulence plays a major role in the whole process and is described by using an adequate turbulence model

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