Supersonic
Wind Tunnel
Submitted by:
Siddharth Doshi
Roll No. : 07AE1022
Department of Aerospace Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur
1. SUPERSONIC WIND TUNNELS
A supersonic wind tunnel is a wind tunnel that produces supersonic
speeds (1.2<M<5) The Mach number and flow are determined by the nozzle
geometry. The Reynolds number is varied changing the density level (pressure in
the settling chamber). Therefore a high pressure ratio is required (for a supersonic
regime at M=4, this ratio is of the order of 10). Apart from that, condensation or
liquefaction can occur. This means that a supersonic wind tunnel needs a drying
or a preheating facility. A supersonic wind tunnel has a large power demand
leading to only intermittent operation.
The power required to run a supersonic wind tunnel is enormous, of
the order of 50 MW per square meter of test section. For this reason most wind
tunnels operate intermittently using energy stored in highpressure tanks. These
wind tunnels are also called intermittent supersonic blow down wind tunnels (of
which a schematic preview is given below). Another way of achieving the huge
power output is with the use of a vacuum storage tank.
1.1 Introduction:
Fig 1: Supersonic Wind Tunnel
The arrangementnamely, a convergentdivergent nozzle, a test
section, and a convergentdivergent diffuser is a Supersonic Wind Tunnel (as
shown in the figure 1). A test model, (a cone, for example) is placed in the test
section, where aerodynamic measurements such as lift, drag, and pressure
distribution are made.
There are different types of wind tunnels; the kind of wind tunnel showed above
is an Open circuit wind tunnel. The different types are:
Closed circuit Wind tunnel
These have a return circuit and the air coming out of the exit is not allowed to
escape, rather it is made to go in a loop, it is compressed and sent back to the
settling chamber.
Open circuit Wind tunnel
These do not have a return circuit. The air is returned to the atmosphere. The
choice of such an arrangement might be dictated by the nature of power available
or lack of space for the return path.
Intermittent or Blow down pressure tunnels
They utilize an air supply from a storage plant. Flow is started by means of a quick
opening valve and lasts only until the pressure in the tank decreases to the value
that gives the minimum operating pressure ratio.
Intermittent vacuum tunnels
They use a vacuum sphere on the diffuser end, instead of a pressure tank on the
supply end. The supply in this tunnel is simply the atmosphere.
1.2 Component analysis:
The basic elements of a supersonic wind tunnel are:
Supersonic nozzle
The function of such a nozzle is to accelerate a stream from Mach
number unity to some desired final mach number. It is of the utmost importance,
in order that free flight is simulated, that the stream entering the test section be
uniform, parallel and shock free. Referring to fig 2, if the nozzle is symmetrical,
there must be a general divergence from the throat to the test section. Also
because of the symmetry, the center line is a stream line, and may be considered
a boundary of the flow for calculation purposes. Hence we need consider only
upper half of nozzle.
Fig 2: Supersonic nozzle
In order to have a net increase in area without any net change in the flow
direction, the wall contour must first curve out side from 7 to 3, and must then
curve in again until at the exit (point 1). Thus three separate zones may be
identified.
The expansion zone: 67326, bounded by the throat 67, by characteristic 23
which on the center line symmetry attains the required test section Mach
number, and by the expansion portion of the nozzle wall 753. This a zone where
waves of both family are present
The test section: It is the region downstream of 12, where the flow is uniform and
parallel at test section Mach number M
E.
Because of the uniform, parallel flow,
the mach line 12 is straight, and is inclined a t the angle
E
to the center line.
The straightening section 321: This is bounded by the Mach lines 32 and 21,
and by the straightening portion of the wall, 31. Since it is a general theorem that
only a zone of simple waves can be patched to a uniform, parallel flow it follows
that the zone 321 must have a simple wave flow such that all flow properties are
uniform on straight left running Mach waves in the zone.
Diffuser
In general one can define a diffuser as any duct designed to slow an
incoming gas flow to lower velocity at the exit of the diffuser. Needless to
mention that in case of a supersonic wind tunnel the incoming gas is supersonic.
However the shape of a diffuser is very different depending on whether the
incoming flow is subsonic or supersonic.
In any flow, the total pressure of the flowing gas is a measure of its
capability to perform useful work. On this basis, a loss of total pressure is always
an inefficiency a loss of the capability to do a certain amount of work. Hence
one could always expand the definition of a diffuser and say a Diffuser is a duct
designed to slow an incoming gas flow to lower velocity at the exit of the
diffuser with as small a loss in total pressure as possible . Consequently, an
ideal diffuser would be characterized by an isentropic compression to lower
velocities. Such a isentropic diffuser is shown in the figure below.
Fig 3: Diffuser
A supersonic flow enters the diffuser at M1, and is isentropically
compressed in a convergent duct to Mach 1 at the throat, where area of throat is
A*, and is further isentropically compressed in a divergent duct to a low subsonic
Mach number at the exit.
However, such an isentropic diffuser is extremely difficult to achieve
and to slow down a supersonic flow without generating shock waves is not
practically achievable. In the convergent portion the supersonic flow is turned
into itself and hence will inherently generate oblique shock waves which will
destroy the isentropic nature. Moreover in real life flow is viscous; and there will
be an entropy increase within the boundary layers on the walls of the diffuser. For
these reasons, an ideal isentropic diffuser can never be constructed.
1.3 Wind tunnel characteristics:
The energy of a closed circuit wind tunnel at steady state remains
constant. Thus the worked performed by the compressor is just equal to the heat
removed by the cooler,
W=Q
The above notion can be used to calculate an ideal value of the power
required for given pressure ratio and mass flow. In the wind tunnel circuit the
compressor and cooler are arranged as shown in fig 4.
Fig 4: CompressorCooler unit
Assuming that the heat transfer at cooler occurs reversibly, at constant
pressure the the relation between the heat per unit mass and the temperature is
q= c
p
(T
c
T
0
) = w
The temperature ratio T
c
/T
0
across the cooler is same as that across
the compressor. Assuming the compression to be reversible, T
c
/T
0
is related to the
pressure ratio by the isentropic relation:
T
c
/ T
0
= (p
0
/ p
0
)
(1)/
=
(1)/
Thus the heat that must be removed, and the work that must be
supplied, per unit mass of fluid, is
w= R T
0
(
(1)/
 1 ) / (1)
So the ideal wind tunnel power is then given by
P = mw = m R T
0
(
(1)/
 1 ) / (1)
Now the mass flow can be written using the throat as reference
section,
m = *a*A* = ( 2 / ( +1) )
(1/2)( +1)/( 1)
Finally combining the above two equation, expression for the power
can be obtained as
P = ( / (1) ) ( 2 / ( +1) )
(1/2)( +1)/( 1)
p
0
a
0
A*(
(1)/
 1)
This shows that the power is proportional to the stagnation pressure,
the stagnation speed of sound, the throat area, and a function of the overall
pressure ratio. Since the work of the compressor is not actually done in the ideal,
reversible manner, the actual power required is higher than this ideal value .
2. EVALUATION OF SUPERSONIC WIND
TUNNEL IN THE DEARTMENT
The supersonic windtunnel present in the department aerodynamics
laboratory is blowdown type. Air is drawn from a tank containing air at high
pressure ( 5atm ) achieved using a compressor . The tank is 6ft. in diameter and
20 ft. in height. The test section is 5cm X 10cm. Air is blown into the tunnel,
where it is maintained at 2528 psi at entry by a hand mechanism. Supersonic flow
at Mach number 2.2 is achieved. A diffuser is mounted at the end of the tunnel to
decrease the exit velocity to 310 m/s. Pressure gauges are fixed at various
positions to monitor pressure. The laboratory tunnel incorporates a supersonic
nozzle contour which has been designed using the method of characteristics
including an empirical correction for boundary layer growth which is an important
factor at high speeds in order to get shockfree inviscid supersonic nozzle. The
tunnel is equipped with a Schlieren system for shock observation. The installation
is suitable for the study of compressible fluid flow and the phenomenon of
normal shocks. Because of changes in temperature and compression in tank,
there is possibility of sum air changing into liquid state. To counter this 10000
small cylindrical cans are fixed in the tank which continuously removes moisture
from tank. Sometimes additional heating may be required. The supersonic wind
tunnel in our department is shown below:
Fig 5: The supersonic wind tunnel in
our department
Determination of Mach Number :
Mach number (M) has been determined using four different techniques:
Schlieren Method is used to observe the shock wave over a wedge and then
, , M relation is used to calculate the Mach number.
Using Area local Mach Number relationship.
Using static pressure measurement on the wall of test section.
Using RayleighPitots formula .
2.1 Using The Schlieren Method :
The Schlieren apparatus for this experiment, shown schematically in
figure below, uses lenses, although for larger systems with long focal lengths
mirrors are customarily employed since these are less expensive than lenses for
comparable size and optical performance.
Fig 6: Schlieren Optical System
We have used schlieren system to determine the flow conditions
around a wedge. A shock wave is formed when supersonic flow passes over
the wedge.
Fig 7: Shock wave over the wedge
From the experiment , the value of = 12.5
o
the value of = 37
o
The , , M relation, given below, can be used to determine the flow
Mach number .
where is the adiabatic index of air(= 1.4).
Putting the values of , in this relation , we get
2.2 Using Area Local Mach Number Relationship:
The areas of cross section at throat A
*
and any other cross section A of
nozzle are related to the mach number at the latter cross section as
We measure area of throat and area at exit and put them in the above
equation. Width is same all through out the nozzle. So we just measure heights. If
w is the width then
From experiment , A= 11.2 * w
A
*
=3.8 * w
Solving the equation using Matlab, we get the value of M to be
M=2.2213
M=2.6334
Fig 8: Solution obtained with Matlab .
2.3 Using Static Pressure Measurement on the Wall of Test
Section :
If P is the static pressure on the walls of test section and P
o
is the total
pressure inside the test section then they are related by the following relation :
1
2
2
1
1

.

\

+ =
M
P
P
o
=>
(
(

.

\

=
1
1
2
1
2
P
P
M
o
The static pressure P is recorded on a Hg U tube and using
h = 47.8 cm and ve sign should be taken in above equation.
1 cm of Hg = 1.3366 kNm
2
Therefore P = 37435.52 Nm
2
Total pressure as given by gauge pressure meter is 30 psi. P
atm
= 14.7psi.
Therefore total pressure P
o
= 29 + 14.7 = 43.7 psi = 301355.5 Nm
2
Calculated Mach Number = 2.0173.
Manometer specifications:
100 divisions = 20 mb
1 division = 20 Nm
2
From experiment, the difference between the static pressure and total
pressure at the exit of the diffuser was found to be 5 manometric divisions.
So velocity at the end of diffuser:
V
exit
= (5*20*2/1.225) ^ (1/2)
Therefore V
exit
=12.65 ms
1
, which is substantially lower than what we have inside
the testsection (around 700 m/sec)
2.4 Using Rayleigh Pitots Formula :
Because of the shock wave formation near the pitot tube , the flow
conditions differ on the side of pitot tube .
M= 2.0173
Fig 9: Pitottube in supersonic flow
where P
1
is static pressure at station 1 and P
02
is total pressure at station 2 .
Rayleigh Pitots formula realtes these two quantities as
1
2
1
1
2
02
1
2
1
1
1
1
2

.

\
 +


.

\

+
+
=
M
M
P
P
From experiment ,
P
1
= [P
atm
+ (1.3366 x 10
3
x h
1
)] Nm
2
P
02
= [P
atm
+ (1.3366 x 10
3
x h
2
)] Nm
2
h
1
= 57.7 cm and h
2
=71.2 cm .
Therefore P
1
= 24203.18 Nm
2
and P
02
= 196490.92 Nm
2
Putting up these values and =1.4, solving using Matlab, we get
M=2.4355
Fig 10: Solution obtained with Matlab
Conclusion:
Thus the departmental supersonic wind tunnel has been evaluated. The Mach
number of the flow calculated using all the four methods was around 2.2.
Report prepared under the guidance of
Prof. G. Bandyopadhyay (Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Kharagpur)