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Elementary Flows

1. Laplace’s equation is a second order linear partial differential equation. The fact

that it is linear is particularly important, because the sum of any particular solutions of a

linear differential equation is also a solution of the equation. Since irrotational,

incompressible flow is governed by Lapace’s equation and Lapace’s equation is linear,

we conclude that a complicated flow pattern for an irrotational, incompressible flow can

be synthesized by adding together a number of elementary flows that are also irrotational

and incompressible.

2. Consider the irrotational, incompressible flow fields over different aerodynamic

shapes, such as sphere, cone, or airplane wing. Each flow is going to be distinctly

different and the streamlines and pressure distribution will be different from each other.

However, these different flows are all governed by the same equation, namely, Laplace

equation. So the different flows for the different bodies can be obtained by using

boundary conditions which conform to the different geometric shapes, and hence yield

different flow-field solutions. Boundary conditions are therefore of vital concern in

aerodynamic analysis.

3. There are four elementary flows with their corresponding boundary conditions are

as given below: -

(a) Uniform Flow

Boundary Conditions:

; 0 u V v

~

· ·

(b) Source Flow and Sink Flow

Boundary Conditions: ; 0

r

c

V V

r

u

· ·

(c) Doublet Flow (a degenerate case of source + sink flows)

Boundary Conditions:

0

lim

2

l

l const

d

x

w u

r

÷

· A·

A | `

·

÷

. ,

and

(d) Vortex Flow

Boundary Conditions: 0;

2

r

V V

r

u

r

I

· ·

4. We can combine two or more of elementary flows and generate more complex

flows. The different geometric shapes defined by these flow fields are decided by finding

their stagnation points and dividing streamlines. For example,

(a) Combination of uniform flow with a source: This gives the flow over a

semi-infinite body.

(b) Combination of uniform flow with a source and sink: This gives flow over

a closed solid body called Rankine oval.

(c) Combination of uniform flow and a doublet: This gives the non-lifting

flow over a circular cylinder. In this, we encounter the d’Alembert’s

paradox i.e., the paradox between the theoretical result of zero drag during

flow over a circular result, and the knowledge that in real life the drag is

finite. The lift also is zero, which is somewhat acceptable in real life.

(d) Combination of uniform flow, doublet and a vortex: This gives the lifting

flow over the cylinder. The interpretation can be of a spinning cylinder

placed in a uniform flow.

(i) Here it is theoretically proved that a finite lift is produced and this

lift is directly proportional to circulation. This relation is called the

Kutta-Joukowski theorem (

' L V p

~ ~

· I

).

(ii) This phenomenon of generation of aerodynamic force

perpendicular to the body’s angular velocity vector is called

Magnus effect.

(iii) It is also theoretically proved that the drag once again is zero

giving rise to d’Alembert’s paradox.

The Kutta-Joukowski Theorem

5. Consider the incompressible flow over an airfoil section. Let curve A be any curve

in the flow enclosing thee airfoil. If the airfoil is producing lift, the velocity field around

the airfoil will be such that the line integral of velocity around A will be finite, that is, the

circulation

.

A

V dS I =

l

ur uur

Ñ

is finite. In turn, the lift per unit span L’ on the airfoil will be given by the Kutta-

Joukowski theorem as

' L V p

~ ~

· I

6. The Kutta-Joukowski theorem states that lift per unit span on a two-dimensional

body is directly proportional to the circulation around the body.

7. This definition of circulation to obtain lift is the essence of the circulation theory

of lift in aerodynamics. The calculation of lift involved the pressure distribution

calculation over the spinning cylinder (lifting flow). Thus Kutta-Joukowski theorem is

simply an alternate way of expressing the consequences of the surface pressure

distribution.

8. Consequently, the theoretical analyses of lift on two-dimensional bodies in

incompressible, inviscid flow focuses on the calculation of the circulation about the body.

Once Γ is obtained, then the lift per unit span follows directly from Kutta-Joukowski

theorem.

The Numerical Source Panel Method

9. The different complex flows like flow over semi-infinite body, Rankine oval, non

lifting and lifting flow over a cylinder were obtained by adding elementary flows in

certain ways. This method is called the indirect method wherein we start with a given

combination of elementary flows and see what body shape comes out of it.

10. This can hardly be used in practical sense for bodies of arbitrary shape. Hence we

want a direct method wherein we specify the shape of an arbitrary body and solve for the

distribution of singularities, which in combination with a uniform stream produce the

flow over the given body. The source panel method is a numerical method for calculating

the non-lifting flow over bodies of arbitrary shape.

(a) In case of source or sink flow, the radial component of velocity is defined

by Vr=Λ/2πr where Λ defines the source strength. Λ is physically the rate

of volume flow from the source per unit depth perpendicular to the plane

of the source. This in effect forms a line source along the surface of a

cylinder.

(b) Now imagine we have an infinite number of such line sources side by side,

where the strength of each line source is infinitesimally small. These side-

by-side line sources form a source sheet.

(c) If a small section of the source sheet of strength λds induces an

infinitesimally small potential dφ at any point P, the complete velocity

potential at point P, induced by the entire source sheet can be obtained by

integration from the initial to final point of the source sheet.

(d) From the velocity potential, the flow velocities can be numerically

calculated/solved.

(e) The pressure distribution can then be calculated from the pressure

coefficient equation using the flow velocities.

(f) Thus the source panel method gives the pressure distribution over the

surface of a non-lifting body of arbitrary shape.

The Flow over a Circular Cylinder-The Real Case

11. The real flow over a circular cylinder is quite different from the theoretical

analysis using elementary flows, due to the influence of friction. Moreover, the drag

coefficient for the real flow over a cylinder is certainly not zero. For a viscous

incompressible flow, the results of dimensional analysis clearly demonstrate that the drag

coefficient is a function of the Reynolds number.

12. The coefficient of drag CD is very large for the extremely small values of Re<1,

but decreases until Re=300,000. At this Reynolds number, there is a precipitous drop of

CD from a value near 1 to about 0.3, then a slight recovery to about 0.6 for Re=10 power

7. This phenomenon is caused by a sudden transition of laminar flow within the boundary

layer at the lower values Re to a turbulent boundary layer at the higher values of Re.

(a) For very low values of Re, say, 1<Re<4, the streamlines are almost

symmetrical, and the flow is attached. This regime of viscous flow is

called Stokes flow; it is characterized by a near balance of pressure forces

with friction forces acting on any given fluid element; the flow velocity is

so low that inertia effects are very small.

(b) For 4<Re<40, the flow becomes separated on the back of the cylinder,

forming two distinct, stable vortices that remain in position.

(c) As Re is increased above 40, the flow behind the cylinder becomes

unstable; the vortices which were in a fixed position are alternately shed

from the body in a regular fashion and flow downstream. The alternately

shed vortex pattern is called a Karman vortex sheet.

(d) As the Reynolds number is increased to large numbers, the Karman vortex

sheet becomes turbulent and begins to metamorphose into a distinct wake.

The laminar boundary layer on the cylinder separates from the surface on

the forward face. The value of Reynolds number is about the order of 10

raised to 5.

(e) From 300000<Re<3000000, the separation of the laminar boundary layer

still takes place on the forward face of the cylinder. However, in the free

shear layer over the top of the separated region, transition to turbulent

flow takes place. The flow then reattaches on the back face of the cylinder,

but separates again at about 120 deg from stagnation point. This transition

and corresponding thinner wake reduces the pressure drag resulting in

drop in CD.

(f) For Re>3000000, the boundary layer directly transits to turbulent flow.

The CD actually increases slightly because the separation points on the

back begin to move closer to the top and bottom of the cylinder producing

a fatter wake and hence larger pressure drag.

THEORETICAL SOLUTIONS FOR LOW-SPEED FLOW OVER AIRFOILS: THE

VORTEX SHEET

13. The source panel method gives the pressure distribution over the surface of a non-

lifting body of arbitrary shape. Here we imagine that we have an infinite number of such

line sources side by side, where the strength of each line source is infinitesimally small.

These side-by-side line sources form a source sheet. In case of the lifting flow over a

cylinder, we consider the analogous situation of vortex flow.

(a) In case of vortex flow, the axial (tangential) component of velocity is

defined by Vθ=Γ/2πr where Γ defines the vortex strength. This in effect

forms a line vortex along the surface of a cylinder.

(b) Now imagine we have an infinite number of such line vortexes side by

side, where the strength of each vortex source is infinitesimally small.

These side-by-side line sources form a vortex sheet.

(c) If a small section of the vortex sheet of strength γds induces an

infinitesimally small circulation dΓ at any point P, the complete circulation

at point P, induced by the entire vortex sheet can be obtained by

integration from the initial to final point of the vortex sheet.

14. The concept of a vortex sheet is instrumental in the analysis of the low-speed

characteristics of an airfoil. Consider an airfoil of arbitrary shape and thickness in a

freestream with velocity Vinf. Replace the airfoil surface with a vortex sheet of variable

strength γ(s). Calculate the variation of γ as a function of s such that the induced velocity

field from the vortex sheet when added to the uniform velocity of magnitude Vinf will

make the vortex sheet (hence the airfoil surface) a streamline of the flow. In turn the

circulation around the airfoil will be given by

ds y I ·

l

where the integral is taken around the complete surface of the airfoil. Finally the resulting

lift can be calculated from Kutta-Joukowski theorem.

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