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# This project is designed to introduce some basic aspects of airfoil lift and drag.

To accomplish this we
will use a shareware code called XFoil. This code is a useful tool developed by Prof. Mark Drela
and H. Youngren in the Aeronautics & Astronautics Department (Course 16) at MIT for
accurately approximating the flow over 2D and 3D airfoils and wings. We will only be using a
small portion of its capabilities in order to look at some basic aerodynamic relationships for 2D
airfoil design.
Basic airfoil geometry is shown in the figure below. The key external features we are going to consider
are the effects of angle of attack, Mach number, and Reynolds number. The key airfoil design
features are the thickness and camber of the airfoil. There will be an exercise for each of these
characteristics.
We will evaluate the effects of these characteristics on the lift and drag of the airfoil as expressed in
non-dimensional form (coefficient of lift, c
l
, and coefficient of drag, c
d
). In general, basic
aerodynamic design involves maximizing lift and minimizing drag. We will also look at the
coefficient of pressure (c
p
) distribution over the airfoil.
We will be using NACA 4-digit airfoils to examine these effects. NACA (National Advisory
Committee for Aeronautics) was a government agency that existed from 1915 to 1958 to promote
and organize aeronautical research. In 1958, it was disbanded and replaced by NASA, expanding
to include astronautics. One aspect of NACA that persists are the series of standard airfoil shapes
that were developed and tested by NACA. The first systematic series of these airfoils is known as
the 4-digit series of airfoils. These airfoils are (not surprisingly) identified by 4 digits (i.e NACA
#### airfoil), which have the following meaning: digit 1 is the relative height of the mean camber
line to the straight chord line; digit 2 is the relative location measured from the leading edge of the
maximum camber; digits 3 and 4 is the relative maximum thickness of airfoil. All dimensions are
relative to the chord length of the airfoil. Thus, the NACA 1312 airfoil has a maximum camber of
0.01c or 1%, located at 0.3c or 30% behind the leading edge, and a maximum thickness of 0.12c
or 12%. These characteristics are fit to an algebraic equation to get the airfoil (if you interested in
this further, a good web resource is found at www.aerospaceweb.org search for NACA 4 digit
airfoils).
Our focus will be to start with a NACA 0012 airfoil and modify the design or external conditions to
obtain lift and drag data. A step-by-step introduction will now be presented on how to do a basic
analysis of a NACA 0012 in XFLR5, the graphics-driven window version of Xfoil. This is

Freestream
chord length
camber
thickness
Project HW3
ME 330
Fall 2008, Section 001
Due December 12, 2008
This project is to be worked in groups of no more than 6 students. Total value of project is 30 points.
Upon opening XFLR5, first go to the File menu and click new project (not necessary when first
opened, but good practice anyways). Then, in the Application menu, click Foil Direct Design. This
will open up a window with an airfoil shown (for designing your own airfoil). Hide this (remove
the check on Show Foil in the lower right), open the Foil menu, and click Naca Foils (at the
bottom). The code will ask for the number of the airfoil (0012) and the number of panels (use the
default value 100). The NACA 0012 will appear on the screen and the listing on the bottom of the
page. Click on the listing to highlight it, indicating that you will be working on this airfoil.
Next, on the application menu, click Xfoil direct analysis. This will open a window which shows
the pressure profile (c
p
v. x/c) plot (but no data yet) and the airfoil shape. To get some data, click
on the Polars menu and then Define Batch Polar. This window allows us to enter key data
depending on the Type of the analysis. We will just use Type 1, which means providing a
Reynolds and Mach number. Use Re = 1,000,000 (default is 100,000) and M = 0.00 (which
essentially means low Mach number). You can give this analysis a user-defined name or just use
the somewhat cryptic default. Dont worry about the transition model stuff, leave as default
values). Have supplied these values, we can now analyze the flow, either by using the batch
analysis under the Polars menu or the side menu on the right under Analysis. I will do the later, by
specifying (angle of attack) = 0 (no sequence), and hitting analyze. The result is now a pressure
profile is shown for this case. Now, redo this analysis, but set the angle of attack (in start) to 4.00
(4 degrees). You will now see a second pressure profile which has two lines, one for the top
surface and the other for the bottom. The c
p
axis is inverted, with negative numbers at the top,
because in this way the top line will typically correspond to the upper surface of the airfoil (where
we want lower pressure). Actually, there is an upper and lower surface line for the 0 degree case as
well, but since the airfoil is symmetric there is no difference between the top and bottom profiles,
so they overlap. Note also that the airfoil sketch is now tilted to show the angle of attack.
To see other plots, go to Polars, then View, then choose. However, we need more points to make
this interesting, so first go back to the right-hand Analysis section and do a sequence starting at =
8 and continuing to = 16 with a step () of 4 degrees. This will yield three more pressure
profiles. Now, go to Polars, View, and then choose Cl vs. alpha. This will show the change in lift
with angle of attack. From angles 0-8, your lift line should be fairly linear. Above this, the lift
curve begins to flatten. The peak of the lift line corresponds to stall, after which increasing the
angle of attack will reduce the lift. Next, choose Cl v. Cd this is the lift-drag polar. Finally, click
on user graph this will yield Cl/Cd v. alpha, with a peak at 8 degrees. If you right click on this
plot, you get another menu which allows you to control the plot display. Here, go to Graph and in
the submenu go to variables. This presents a list of variables with all the plot choices available.
Construct a plot Cd v. alpha.
These are the tools you need there is plenty more (some of which will be available in the separate
guide for XFLR5), but this should be sufficient to get you started. Dont be afraid to experiment
you can always reset by starting a new project.
Exercise A: Effect of angle of attack
For this exercise, start with the NACA 0012 airfoil. Using Re = 1,000,000 and M = 0.00, analyze the
airfoil for = -4 to 16 degrees with a step of 4 degrees. Determine the value of c
l
and c
d
at each
angle, and submit a plot with all six pressure profiles. Briefly discuss the trends seen what happens
to the pressure profiles, lift, and drag as the angle of attack increases. Does this seem consistent with
a Bernoulli approach to analysis?
Now, refine your plot, running from -4 to 18 degrees, with a step of 0.5 degrees. Based on this
analysis, what is the maximum c
l
for this airfoil and what angle corresponds to the start of stall?
What is the maximum c
l
/c
d
and at this point what is the value of c
l
, c
d
, and ? What angle
corresponds to zero lift? Provide plots of c
l
v. , c
d
v. , c
l
/c
d
v. , and the lift-drag polar using this
data.
Exercise B: Effect of Reynolds number
Start with the NACA 0012 at = 4 degrees and M = 0.00. Create pressure profiles for Re = 100,000
to 2.1 million with an increment of 400,000. In addition, do the case with Re = 4 million. Provide a
plot with all these profiles. What key changes do you observe in the pressure profile as the Reynolds
numbers change?
Next, solve for = -4 to 20 with a step of 0.5 degrees for Re = 100,000, 500,000, 900,000,
2,100,000, and 4,000,000. For each Reynolds number, what is the maximum c
l
, what angle
corresponds to the start of stall, what is the maximum c
l
/c
d
and at this point what is the value of c
l
,
c
d
, and ? Provide plots of c
l
v. , c
d
v. , c
l
/c
d
v. , and the lift-drag polar using this data, with the
curve for all five Reynolds numbers on each plot. Briefly describe the trends, noting the behavior at
low angles of attack and at high angles of attack.
Exercise C: Effect of Mach number
Start with the NACA 0012 at = 4 degrees and Re = 2 million. Create pressure profiles for M = 0.0,
0.1, 0.2, and 0.3. Provide a plot with all these profiles. What key changes do you observe in the
pressure profile as the Mach numbers change?
Next, solve for = -4 to 20 with a step of 0.5 degrees for these four Mach numbers. For each Mach
number, what is the maximum c
l
, what angle corresponds to the start of stall, what is the maximum
c
l
/c
d
and at this point what is the value of c
l
, c
d
, and ? Provide plots of c
l
v. , c
d
v. , c
l
/c
d
v. , and
the lift-drag polar using this data, with the curve for all four Mach numbers on each plot. Briefly
describe the trends, noting the behavior at low angles of attack and at high angles of attack.
Exercise D: Effect of Thickness
For this exercise, assume Re = 2,000,000 and M = 0.00. Do an analysis running from -4 to 20
degrees, with a step of 0.5 degrees, for the NACA 0004, 0008, 0012, 0016, and 0020 airfoils. Based
on this analysis, what is the maximum c
l
for these airfoils and what angle corresponds to the start of
stall? What is the maximum c
l
/c
d
and at this point what is the value of c
l
, c
d
, and ? Provide plots of
c
l
v. , c
d
v. , c
l
/c
d
v. , and the lift-drag polar using this data, with all five airfoil curves on each
plot. Briefly describe the trends you observe.
Further, reexamine the convergence/non-convergence and the shape of the two thinnest airfoils. Up
to what angle of attack do you believe the observed curves? Show these limits on your plots.
Exercise E: Effect of camber, magnitude
For this exercise, assume Re = 2,000,000 and M = 0.00. Do an analysis running from -4 to 20
degrees, with a step of 0.5 degrees, for the NACA 0012, 0312, 1312, 2312, and 3312 airfoils. Present
a plot of all six airfoil profiles. Based on this analysis, what is the maximum c
l
for these airfoils and
what angle corresponds to the start of stall? What is the maximum c
l
/c
d
and at this point what is the
value of c
l
, c
d
, and ? What angle corresponds to zero lift? Provide plots of c
l
v. , c
d
v. , c
l
/c
d
v. ,
and the lift-drag polar using this data, with all six airfoil curves on each plot. Briefly describe the
trends you observe what are the key differences between symmetric airfoils and asymmetric
airfoils, and what does adding camber do to the aerodynamics?
Exercise F: Effect of camber, location
For this exercise, assume Re = 2,000,000 and M = 0.00. Do an analysis running from -4 to 20
degrees, with a step of 0.5 degrees, for the NACA 0012, 2112, 2312, 2512, and 2712 airfoils. Present
a plot of all five airfoil profiles. Based on this analysis, what is the maximum c
l
for these airfoils and
what angle corresponds to the start of stall? What is the maximum c
l
/c
d
and at this point what is the
value of c
l
, c
d
, and ? What angle corresponds to zero lift? Provide plots of c
l
v. , c
d
v. , c
l
/c
d
v. ,
and the lift-drag polar using this data, with all five airfoil curves on each plot. Briefly describe the
trends you observe what are the key differences between symmetric airfoils and asymmetric
airfoils, and what does changing the camber location do to the aerodynamics?
Exercise G: Finding the best values for a NACA airfoil
For this, your goal is to locate the NACA airfoil that achieves the stated goals below. You may allow
the camber to range from 0%-9%c, the camber location to be from 10%-70%c, and the thickness to
range from 3%-30%c. Using your knowledge of the trends from the previous exercises find:
a) the airfoil with the highest c
l,max
b) the airfoil with the highest c
l
at = 0
c) the airfoil with the largest stall angle
d) the airfoil with the best c
l
/c
d
ratio at = 4 degrees
e) the airfoil with the best c
l
/c
d
ratio at = 4 degrees and Re = 200,000
For all these (except as noted), assume Re = 2 million and M = 0. Watch for inaccurate results or a
lack of convergence. Note that the results may still not be the best design as there are many other
considerations we are not covering.
Bonus: (8 points)
This is an exercise in designing your own airfoil. At low Reynolds numbers (say 10,000- 200,000)
the flow over an airfoil is generally transitional and subject to separation, resulting in lower lift
values and lower stall angles. Traditional flight occurs at much higher numbers (~10
6
) , but
with the growth of unmanned aerial vehicles and the study of biological flight (insect/birds),
interest in these regimes has grown.
The goal of this bonus study is for your group to try to design an airfoil that improves on the flight
characteristics in this regime compared to a base NACA airfoil, in this case the NACA 3412,
using the airfoil spline point tool in XFLR5. The rules are that the thickness of your airfoil
must be at least 12% and the camber no more than 6% due to structural considerations.
Otherwise your goal is to create an airfoil that performs better than the NACA 3412 at Re =
100,000 and M = 0.2 in the following areas:
i) Higher C
L,max
ii) Higher
stall
iii) Higher C
l
/C
d
@ = 6
o
iv) Higher C
l
/C
d
@ = 2
o
v) Higher C
l
@ = 0
o
To get credit, your airfoil must be superior to the NACA 3412 in at least one of these categories.
Beating the NACA 3412 in one category is worth 4 points, with an additional bonus point for
each additional superior category, up to a maximum of 4 additional points or 8 points total.
You will need to submit a printout of the Foil Direct Design page with your foil and the
NACA 3412 foil, along with plots of C
L
v. and C
L
/C
D
v. a for both your foil and the 3412
foil (see below). For the analysis, use a step of -0.25
o
and run it for at least -4
o
to 20
o
(and
higher as needed to make the stall angle clear). See examples of these outputs on the next page
for an airfoil that fails all five tests (so dont use it, obviously).
To design your airfoil, you will use the Foil Direct Design page of XFLR5. The splined points foil
can be modified by grabbing the points with your mouse and moving them. Right-clicking on
the screen pops-up a menu that you can use to add or remove spline points. Once you like your
profile and confirm in the listing below that the thickeness and camber requirements have been
met, then you should rename the splines foil by highlighting it in the listing and clicking on the
Foil menu, which gives the Rename option. Then, save the spline data as foil data by using
the Splines menu and the save spline data as foil data command. Finally, reload the foil data
using the File menu and Load File. From this point, you can analyze your foil as you would a
NACA foil.