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# Propeller Design Workshop

## Outline: Theory and design of practical propellers, Part 1.

1.Propeller aerodynamics. 2.Best diameter and pitch. 3.Number of blades. 4.Determining blade angles from hub to tip. 5.Angle of attack. 6.Blade shape and "elliptic" loading explained. 7.Historical notes. 8.NACA wind tunnel research. 9.Introduction to Vortex theory: What all those German guys said (Prandtl, Munk, Betz, Goldstein, Glauert, Theodorsen) translated into plain English.

## HOW PROPELLERS WORK

How Propellers Work

1. Propeller Aerodynamics
How many of you are preparing to design your own airplane? How many of you are prepared to design your own propeller for that airplane? This forum will attempt to provide an overview and some details of propeller design One cannot tell a good prop just by How Propellers Work looking, but one can avoid the

1. Propeller Aerodynamics
Propeller design has three parts:
Aerodynamic design
Main aspect of this forum

Structural design
Secondary

Mechanical design
Details, details!

## How Propellers Work

1. Propeller Aerodynamics
Why propeller aerodynamics is important Consider a typical light airplane at climb speed
82kts, L/D = 10, 175 sq ft. wing, 2400 lbs., 13.7 psf 76in, 8in chord, 4.25 sq ft., 240 lbs., 56.5 psf 60 Thp, even more Bhp
How Propellers Work

## Now, lets actually climb

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For a fixed-pitch prop, need 200 hp engine since cant get full rpm and power in climb 4.25 sq ft. pulling 560 lbs = 132 psf! Tip speed: 905 fps = 535 kt

## How Propellers Work

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Thats not the environment wed normally think of as being within the operating envelope of a little old Skyhawk Just maybe, the airfoil choice is a little more involved than Use a Clark Y, thats the way weve always done it At cruise speed a similar analysis How Propellers Work would yield similar results

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This is high-speed subsonic aerodynamics at the tip, but still lowspeed aero at the root How can low-speed aerodynamics possibly support 132 psf loadings? It cant! Thus, the question of the loading from root to tip becomes important So important that it is the driving How Propellers Work factor over all other design factors

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The propeller tips must not be allowed to go sonic
That does not mean they must be kept below Mach 1.0 That does mean they must be kept much below Mach 1.0

Good rules-of-thumb are 950fps for metal props, 850fps for wood, somewhere in between for composites based on thickness How Propellers Work

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Notice also that the blade chord is narrow That means the Reynolds Numbers are low along the entire blade, even near the tips due to the effect of taper Low Reynolds Numbers (Re) put the blades airfoil design condition near the bottom of or even below the How Propellers Work lower limit of what has been

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For example, a formula one racer at full race power (4400 rpm) and speed (250 mph) has a propeller blade Re on the order of one million Typical GA airplanes fare slightly better, but many homebuilts fare much worse Typical NACA/NASA wind tunnel airfoil research is at Res of three to How Propellers Work nine million

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As Tim Kern points out on page 90 of the January, 2009 Sport Aviation magazine, The wrong prop can waste 20% of your airplanes potential. That could be 128 knots vs. 160 knots. Think about it. And the rate of climb? A 5% increase in prop efficiency is equal to a 5% decrease in airframe How Propellers Work drag

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Propeller aerodynamic design is more like sailplane design than airplane design There are two design points of interest
Sailplane: thermalling (minimum sink), and travelling between thermals (maximize L/D) Propeller: climbing, and cruising
How Propellers Work

## Of first concern for each is the

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A wing operates in a translating airflow A propeller is a wing operating in a rotating and translating airflow This complicates matters (immensely) When an airplane slows down, the entire wing experiences a uniform change of airspeed and angle of How Propellers Work attack across the entire wingspan

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Because of this complication, we tend to design propellers for a single design point Then we accept whatever performance we get at the other important design point So, we need two tools for propeller design
A design tool, to optimize for our design How Propellers Work point

1. Propeller Aerodynamics
The Analysis tool could be a computer tool or it could be a wind tunnel, or The most common Analysis tool for propeller design is the airplane carve the prop, mount it, fly it, see what itll do! Unfortunately, this introduces waaaaay too many variables to How Propellers Work isolate subtle propeller design

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So, much good design-tool effort is discounted in the end as just so much bloviating The old ways work, just stick to em Thus, we have rules-of-thumb and popular wisdom and anecdotal evidence as our most powerful and influential design experts How Propellers Work Some propeller manufacturers are

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A side note about propeller design methods: There are four ways to design anything
Wing it, a.k.a. W.A.G. wild-astuteguess
Also S.W.A.G. scientific-wild-astuteguess

Cut-and-try (and try, and try again) Trial-and-error, a.k.a. Bracketing or zeroing-in How Propellers Work Guided by Analysis, usually called

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There are three primary Analytical methods
Statistical measurement
Trial and error (tens or hundreds of times) Variation of parameters

## Dimensional analysis and Similitude

Isolation of physical parameters, comparison with smaller-scale models, discovery of scaling factors

## First Principles Theoretical

How Propellers Work Newton,

## Bernoulli, Einstein, high-falutin

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The Theoretical method does not stand alone; It informs the other methods. Likewise, the other methods feed back to theory to guide the evolution of that theory Today, there is essentially one theory of propellers, but many different approaches to that theory having How Propellers Work various levels of approximation to

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Another side note:
There is NO equivalent to Aspect Ratio for props This is not to say one couldnt calculate an aspect ratio for a propeller blade Rather, the function of the AR in wing aerodynamic calculations is not paralleled anywhere in propeller calculations Thus, the usual calculation of induced How Propellers Work drag from AR is absent

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This is a result of the Vortex theory of lift See NACA Report No. 116
Application of Modern Hydrodynamics to
Aeronautics L. Prandtl, Gottingen University This document should be considered required reading! Add NACA Report No. 824 or Theory of Wing Sections by Abbott and von Doenhoff to your required reading list, too How Propellers Work

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Another side note:
Everything you read WILL have typographical erors Especialy in the important section, or in the all-important equaations Cross-check and verify from multiple sources Do your own homework
Does it make sense? (First principles) Do the units work out? (Dimensional analysis) How Propellers Work Look for newer works that cite the older ones

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What constitutes the best prop for my airplane? Optimization can take many forms
Lightest weight Most damage tolerant Lowest cost Easiest to build Coolest looking (Most prevalent! )
How Propellers Work

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What constitutes the best prop for my individual, unique airplane (or type)? Optimized for some specified flight condition Usually, either climb or cruise In-between sometimes called a service prop Racing airplanes optimize for maximum speed Other applications may optimize for maximum static thrust or low-speed thrust (STOL) How Propellers Work

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This forum focuses on optimizing a fixed-pitch prop for one specific airplane (Bobs RV-6) operating at one specific design point:
Altitude = 8000 ft density altitude Horsepower = 170 sea-level brake horsepower Speed = 205 mph TAS (he says itll do it really!) How WhileWork retaining a good climb rate Propellers still

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Questions so far? How are we doing for time?

## How Propellers Work

1. Propeller Aerodynamics
A propeller is a wing constrained to rotate about one of its wing tips When we think of a propeller we typically think of a two-bladed propeller A two-bladed propeller is two wings each constrained to rotate about one of its wing tips And joined at the central wing tips Thus, a two-bladed propeller has four wing tips How Propellers Work

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## How Propellers Work

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Theory of Propellers Theodore Theodorsen, PhD. McGraw-Hill 1948 (eBay about \$165) Save yer sheckels get NACA Reports 775-778 and 924 instead. Thank you, John Crigler!
How Propellers Work

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MIT Open CourseWare (OCW) Hydrofoils and Propellers Prof. J. E. Kerwin, PhD. Kerwin_notes.pdf Free online

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Pre-swirl stator operating alone. A substantial hub vortex is again evident.The sign of this vortex is opposite from the one shown in the previous figure.

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Propeller and stator operating together. The hub vortex has been canceled.

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## How Propellers Work

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NASA-CR-145627
Proceedings of the NASA-IndustryUniversity General Aviation Drag Reduction Workshop, 1975 Propellers of Minimum Induced Loss, and Water Tunnel Tests of Such a Propeller (p. 273) E. E. Larrabee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
How Propellers Work

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Questions so far? How are we doing for time?

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NASA Conference Publication 2085 (Part I)
Science and Technology of Low-Speed and Motorless Flight, 1979 Design of Propellers for Motorsoarers by E. Eugene Larrabee (p. 285) (This is also where youll find the Epper 1230 airfoil that Burt Rutan used on some airplanes)
How Propellers Work

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Questions so far? How are we doing for time?

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There are two things above all else that I want you to learn from this forum: Goldsteins function does for propellers what elliptical loading does for wings - efficiency

Each blade is a complete wing unto How Propellers Work a tip vortex from each itself, with

1. Propeller Aerodynamics
Questions so far? How are we doing for time?

## How Propellers Work

5. Angle of attack.

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7. Historical notes.

## How Propellers Work

History
The development of propeller design methods has mirrored the technologies of the day 19th c.: Scientific method still in infancy
Helmholtz Theory of Vorticity
Foundation of Hydrodynamics and Aerodynamics

Froudes and Rankines Actuator Disc Theory Drzwieckis Blade Element theory How Propellers Work

History
Early 20th c.: Experiment and Analysis
Scientific method flourishes in experiment
Eiffel wind tunnel investigation of wings and airfoils Lesley & Durand tests of model propellers Prandtl et. al Gottingen tunnel: wings and airfoils Weick et. al Langley propeller tunnel
Tests of full-scale propellers

## N.A.C.A. Variable-density tunnel

Model and full-scale propeller tests Investigation of effect of Reynolds number on wings How Propellers Work & props

History
Early 20th c.: Experiment and Analysis
Analysis flourishes in academia and research institutes
Lanchester: Concepts of vortex flow and circulation Prandtl: Quantified Lanchesters description
Gave us the concepts of downwash and induced drag

## Munk: Applied vortex theory to the optimization of wings

gave us the elliptic lift distribution

## Betz: Applied vortex theory to the optimization of propellers

described the propeller analog of elliptic lift (thrust) distribution

distribution

## Exact solution of Betz propeller

History
Early-mid 20th c.: Emphasis on simplification
Creation and use of charts (graphs), tables, and nomograms for rapid calculation Minimal reliance on computation Prefer statistical estimates over iterative solutions Calculus machines more plentiful than calculating machines
Planimeter and Integraph for integration Splines and French Curves for drawing derivative How Propellers Work curves

History
Mid-late 20th c.: Emphasis on computation
Increasing use of computers Development of discretization into finite elements Direct and iterative solutions of unsolvable math Calculating machines more plentiful than mathematicians
Mini-computers How Propellers Work Programmable pocket calculators

History
Mid-late 20th c.: Jets and CFD
Finite element and finite volume methods evolved into Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD Too bad nobody was interested in propellers any more! (Or werent they? Ships have em too.) Then came the 1970s energy crisis 1980s un-ducted fans were all the rage Waaaaaaaaaay loud! Oops! Cancel How Propellers Work program

History
Mid-late 20th c.: NOT Jets and CFD
BUT: Quietly, Prof. Eugene E. Larrabee of MIT was revolutionizing propeller design for the rest of us His design for a VW powered homebuilt airplanes propeller registered the highest efficiency ever recorded in the MIT water tunnel 85% Propellers designed using Larrabees method have helped to set many How Propellers Work world records absolute

History
Late 20th c.: Larrabee reigns supreme
MITs Chrysalis man-powered airplane Gossamer Albatross and Gossamer Condor More than 400 windmills in Altamonte Pass, CA Aerovironments Solar Challenger et. seq. Rutans Voyager (propellers by John How Propellers Work Roncz)

Today
Larrabee computerized Glauerts work, but. What happened to Theodorsens theory? What about CFD? What about supercomputers? What about prop-fans? What about this, that, and the other new theory trumpeting itself as the next and way better prop design How Propellers Work theory?

Yes!

!!!
(Er, at least I think I can)

## How Propellers Work

Yes!

!!!
(Er, at least I think I can) NASA CR-145627 p. 273 (1975) NASA CP-2085 pt-1 p. 285 (1979) Adkins & Liebeck in Journal of Propulsion & Power EAA Weick TN-212 NASA TM-80403 NASA CP-2126

## 9. Introduction to Vortex theory

What all those German guys said (Prandtl, Munk, Betz, Goldstein, Glauert, Theodorsen) translated into plain English.

## Summary: Theory and design of practical propellers, Part 1.

1.Propeller aerodynamics. 2.Best diameter and pitch. 3.Number of blades. 4.Determining blade angles from hub to tip. 5.Angle of attack. 6.Blade shape and "elliptic" loading explained. 7.Historical notes. 8.NACA wind tunnel research. 9.Introduction to Vortex theory: What all those German guys said (Prandtl, Munk, Betz, Goldstein, Glauert, Theodorsen) translated into plain English.

## HOW PROPELLERS WORK

How Propellers Work

## Propeller Design 101: How Propellers Work

Propeller Design Workshop Gall Aerospace www.PropellerDesignWorkshop.com