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Wind tunnel techniques

Module 1

Buckingham Pi theorem
The application of this theorem provides a
fairly easy method to identify dimensionless
parameters (numbers).
However identification of the influencing
parameters is the job of an expert rather than
that of a novice.


The principle is basic for the correctness of
any equation.
It states If an equation truly expresses a
proper relationship between variables in a
physical phenomenon, then each of the
additive terms will have the same
dimensions or these should be dimensionally

Model & prototype

In the engineering point of view model can be
defined as the representation of physical
system that may be used to predict the
behavior of the system in the desired aspect
The system whose behavior is to be predicted
by the model is called the prototype.


Geometric Similarity :Some

of the PI terms involve the

ratio of length parameters. All the similar linear dimension of the
model and prototype should have the same ratio. This I called
geometric similarity. The ratio is generally denoted by the scale or
scale factor

Dynamic Similarity:

PI terms like Reynolds number, Froude

number, Weber number etc. be equal for the model and prototype. These
numbers are ratios of inertia, viscous gravity and surface tension forces.
This condition implies that the ratio of forces on fluid elements at
corresponding points (homologous) in the model and prototype should be
the same. This requirement is called dynamic similarity

Kinematic Similarity:

When both geometric and dynamic

similarities exist, then velocity ratios and acceleration ratios will be the
same throughout the flow field. This will mean that the streamline patterns
will be the same in both cases of model and prototype. This is called
kinematic similarly

Non- Dimensional Numbers

Reynolds number (Re) = Inertia force/Viscous
Mach number = Inertia force/Elastic force
Froude number = Inertia force/Gravity force
Weber number : It is defined as the ratio of
the inertia force to surface tension force

Model or similarity Law

For the dynamic similarities between the model
and prototype, the ratios of corresponding force
acting on the corresponding points should be
The ratio of the forces of non-dimensional
numbers it means that for the dynamic similarity
between model and prototype , the dimensionless
number should be same for model and prototype.
The law on which the model are designed for
dynamic similarity are called model laws or
similarity laws

Reynoldss model law

It states that the Reynolds number for the
model and prototype must be equal where the
viscous force is predominant in addition to the
inertia force

Types of Models

Undistorted model: An undistorted model is one which is

geometrically similar with its prototype. The condition of
similarities are completely satisfied for such models hence the
results obtained from the model test are easily used

Distorted model:

geometrically not similar with its prototype.

In such model, the different scale ratios for linear dimensions are

Distortion of dimension- adoption of different scale for

vertical and horizontal
Distortion of Configuration Model does not be an
resemblance of its Prototype.
Material Distortion - Adoption of different material for
model and prototype

Scale Effect
The behaviour of the prototype as predicted by two models
with different scale ratio is generally not the same. Such an
difference in the prediction of behaviour prototype is known as
Scale Effect.

Need of experiments :
(i)Theory is incomplete and needs to be supplemented.
(ii) Information of fundamental nature needed in many
Experimental information towards solving aerodynamic
problems could be obtained in a number of ways. Flight
tests, rocket flights, drop tests water tunnels, ballistic
ranges and wind tunnels are some of the ways by which
aerodynamic data can be generated. With the help of well
performed experiments even information of fundamental
nature could be derived

Wind tunnel
Majority of experimental data needed in
aerodynamics is generated using wind tunnels. Wind
Tunnel is a device for producing airflow relative to
the body under test. Wind tunnels provide uniform
flow conditions in their test section.

Applications of wind tunnels

1. Aerodynamic applications
2. Non-Aero applications in
Civil Engineering
Automobile Engineering
Calibration of instruments

Classifications of wind tunnels

Operational point of view
Low speed tunnels
High speed tunnels

Blow down M > 0.5 < 5.0
Intermittent pressure vacuum tunnel for M>5

Special purpose tunnels

Wind tunnels may be classified based on

Speed, Mach no :

hypersonic wind tunnels.

(b) Mode of operation (Pressure storage, in-draft

or Pressure vacuum type.)
(c) Kind of test section (T.S) - Open, Closed or Semi

Low speed wind tunnel (continuous type; up to 40 m/s)

High speed wind tunnel (intermittent/blow down Mach 3, 600m/s)

Shock tunnel (impulse type; Mach 7, 2km/s)

Free piston shock tunnel (impulse type, Mach 4-10, 5km/s)
Expansion tube (impulse type, Mach 10, 10km/s)

Honey comb


Open Return
Closed Test Section
low speed tunnels
type Fan
& motor

Honey combs: its used to improve the flow qualities in the test
section. Are made of octagonal, hexagonal, square or cylindrical

Effuser : basically a contraction cone, which bring down the

turbulence level and increases the velocity of the flow the
contraction ratio n is the ratio between entry and exit of the
cone . Normally the ratio varies from 4 to 20 for low speed
n = area at entry of contraction cone
area at exit of contraction cone

Test section : the portion which have constant flow

patterns . Because the boundary layer is formed along the
test section walls , the walls are given suitable divergence
. So that the net C/S area of the flow is constant along the
length of the test section
Test section wall Boundary layer

Constant flow

Constant flow

Divergence angle

Diffuser :

is to convert the KE of the flow coming out

of the test section in to PE. Before it leaves the diffuser as
efficiently as possible. Normally smaller the divergence
angle of diffuser will give more efficiency . Near to the
exit it will be circular to accommodate the fan .

Driving unit : generally it consist of motor and propeller

or a fan combination . Speed adjustment has to be done by
varying the RPM. (many larger tunnel tat are equipped
with both RPM and pitch change mechanisms )

Closed circuit low speed tunnel

Tunnel at MSN

High speed tunnels

Test section flow velocity more than 650km/hr
High speed tunnel are normally intermittent
(discontinuous) type
Energy is stored in the in the form of pressure
or vacuum or both and is allowed to drive the
tunnel only for few seconds
Intermittent tunnel
Blow down tunnel
Induction tunnel

Continuous operation tunnel

Blow down type wind tunnel

(High speed tunnel)

Blow down type wind tunnel

The most economical type
of super sonic tunnel
Can have larger test section
and high mach number
(M=4 can obtained)
Constant blowing pressure
can be maintained
Running time considerable
duration can be achieved
Single drive may easily run
several tunnels of different

Dis advantages
Charging time to running time
ratio will be very high for
larger size tunnel
Stagnation temperature in the
reservoir drops during the run
and changes the Reynolds
And adjustable throttling
valve is necessary for constant
stagnation pressure
Starting load is high
Pressure range of reservoir
100 to 2000 psi.

Induction type tunnel

Vacuum created at the down stream end of the tunnel

is used to establish the flow in the test section .
To Po are constant
No oil contamination , because pump at the down stream end

Drier size should be large because it has to handle a large mass
flow in a short duration
Vacuum tank size required is too large
M > 2 is not possible

Continuous super sonic wind tunnels

(closed circuit super sonic wind tunnel)

A small drier is sufficient

Testing condition can be maintained over a
long period of time
The test section can be designed for M>4 and
large size models
Starting condition can be reduced by starting
at low pressure in the tunnel shell

Supersonic tunnel basic note

(common to all tunnel )

Model size is determined from

test rhombus. The model
must be accommodated in side
the rhombus formed by the
incident and reflected shock for
proper measurements

Axial flow compressor is

better suited for large
pressure ratio and mass
flow rate
Proper nozzle geometry is
very important to obtain
good distribution of Mach
number & freedom from
floe angularity in the test
Subsonic portion of the
diffuser must have an
minimize the frictional and
separation losses


Power required is very high

Requires large size cooler
Tunnel design and operation are more

Power losses in a wind tunnel

Losses in the cylinder part

Losses in the guide vane at the corners(CCT)
Losses in the diffuser
Losses in the contraction cone
Losses in the honey comb
Losses in test section (jet loss in case of open jet)
Losses in the exit (OCT)

Generally losses is expressed in terms of

pressure drop p ,In dimension less form
called pressure drop coefficient K
K= (p/q)

q- is the dynamic pressure of the flow given

K= -------------------


Compressor tunnel matching

1. Chose a compressor for specified test section size, mach number
& pressure level
2. Determine the best utilization of already available compressor

In both case the characteristics to be matched are over

all pressure ratio and mass flow rate.
Usually the compressor are measured in terms of
volumetric Flow V
Because the density varies through out the circuit , the
V also varies through out the tunnel.
- operating pressure ratio
V- volumetric flow rate

Matching of Wind tunnel & compressor

characteristics (one test section condition )
By increasing the stage
high pressure ratio can
be obtained

Leads to large mach

number flow

Operation over a range of Mach

n- matching point
b- matching point with
0 matching point at
minimum operating ratio
The plot Vs V is a straight
line through the origin with a
slope 1/ V0

Power requirement for a multi stage

compressor is given by
- mass flow rate
P03 & P0c- total pressure at the inlet and out let
of compressor
N- no of stages
Ts- stagnation temp

Basic formula for wind tunnel calculation

Pt & t stagnation
pressure and density
P , , T - local pressure
density and temperature

P1 & P2 pressure at up
stream and down stream of

Mass flow rate

consideration in sizing a wind
associated equipments such as ,
compressor diffuser .

This equation is applicable both

for subsonic and super sonic

for sub sonic flow test

section mach number is
For super sonic flow nozzle
throat of mach number is
evaluated for predicting the
mass flow rate
Blow down tunnel usually
pressure is to obtain a steady
flow at the time of data
being recorded

Blow down tunnel operation

The pressure and temperature at the storage tank
changes during the operation . This pressure
changes causes the following effect
Tunnel stagnation and settling chamber pressure fall
Force acting on the model changes during test
Reynolds no of the flow changes during tunnel run

3 methods are followed blow down tunnel run

constant Reynolds number operation
Constant pressure operation
Constant throttle operation

Pbi settling chamber pressure

storage tank inlet
From the graph its clear
Reynolds number decreases
with running time for a
constant throttle operation
Reynolds increases with running
time for a constant pressure
Reynolds change result in
boundary layer thinness and that
affects the area and mach number
at the test section

But the M changes due to the

above causes will be normally

Reynolds number control

m viscosity index
n- polytropic index
Its clear that Re decreases with
time t for a throttling processes
For a given P & T the running time
t will be
Shortest for
constant throttle
Longest for Reynolds no operation
In between above 2 for constant
pressure operation