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Pratik V. Dedhia∗

IIST, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, 695547, India

The objective of the experiment is to study the subsonic wind tunnel and its components

and calibrate the subsonic wind tunnel by measuring the velocity profile in the test-section.

Nomenclature

ρair density of air kg/m3

ρethanol density of ethanol kg/m3

Re Reynolds number

g gravity in m/s2

µ viscosity of air in Pas

V Freestream velocity

P Pressure in N/m2

Patm Atmospheric pressure in pa

I. Introduction

The experiment aims at studying and calibrating a subsonic wind tunnel in the sense drawing a rela-

tionship between the fan speed and Re. Mean flow velocity will be calculated at different fan speeds and a

linear relation will be drawn between the two using least square fit using the dicrete data obtained during

the measurements. Also variation of Reynolds number with fan speed will be plotted. Variation of velocity

in the transverse direction of the test section will be checked. And finally, losses in the section inlet to

wiremesh, contraction section will be computed and a rough estimate of power required to run the wind

tunnel at various speed will be obtained.

II. Theory

A subsonic wind tunnel and its components are shown in figure 1. The role of each components of the

wind tunnel are as follows.

A bellmouth inlet in generally preferred at the the entry of the suction type wind tunnel. In suction type

a fan is placed at the end to draw air into the wind tunnel using suction by creating a low pressure at the

exit. Due this surrounding air is drawn into the wind tunnel via inlets. Now if a blunt edge inlet is used it

will cause flow seperation and will give rise to instabilities. Hence for smooth flow round bellmouth inlets

are used.

B. Settling chamber

Settling chamber further consists of two components, honeycomb structure and screen.

∗ M.tech student, Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, SC15M001.

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Figure 1. Sketch of Subsonic windtunnel and its components

1. Honeycomb structure

Honeycomb structure consists of long cylindrical, square or hexagonal tubes of size 6-8 mm. This arrangement

help in damping aany swirl present in the flow. It helps in removing any angularity in the flow, thus allowing

only unidirectional flow.

2. Screen

A screen is made of either wire mesh or perforated plate. Honeycomb straightens the flow but it does not

affect the velocity distribution in transcerse direction. Screen is used to remove tranverse velocity variation

and make flow much more uniform.

The pressure loss due the settling chamber is high and is proportional to square of flow velocity, hence it

is placed it that section of the wind tunnel where the velocity is minimum i.e. just after the inlet.

C. Converging nozzle

In subsonic wind tunnel, flow is accelerated using a convergent nozzle. It is usually placed after the settling

chamber to get a uniform, irrotational flow at its inlet which will ultimately lead to uniform, irrotational

high velocity at its exit.

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D. Testsection

It is that region of the wind tunnel where provision for mounting model and other measuring probes are

present. It is that section where the model can be tested. The test section can either be straight or diverging.

Diverging testsections are used to decrease the horizontal bouyancy arising because of boundary layer.

E. Diffuser

Diffuser is placed after the test section to convert the flow kinetic energy to pressure energy. In this manner

it recovers the pressure head and prevents it from getting lost in kinetic energy. This considerably reduces

the power requirements for fan, and only losses are left to be compensated.

F. Measurement device

This is one of the most important component of wind tunnel because it helps acquiring the data. Manometer

shown in the figure is one such device which measures pressure in terms of height. This pressure can be used

to measure the flow velocity and hence reynolds number. This is explained below.

s

2(Po − P1 )

V =

ρair

q = (ρair V 2 )/2

ρair V c

Re =

µ

A subsonic wind tunnel with all the components described as above are setup with fan along with its

speed adjustment unit at the exit.A pitot-static tube along with the transverse movement mechanism is fitted

in the test section to measure the stagnation and static pressure. Also manometer probes are connected in

the wiremesh region and at the exit of the converging nozzle, to measure the pressure loss. Manometer tubes

are inclined at 30 degrees to achieve more precise measurements. Since it is a suction type wind tunnel, the

stagnation pressure is atmospheric pressure.

The wind tunnel was operated under 6 different fan speeds starting from 450 with increment of 50, hence

6 different Reynolds number. Pressure head in the wiremesh region and at the exit of the nozzle were measure

along with the pitot-static tube pressure heads. Also at 750 rpm, pressures were measured for pitot tube

placed at different heights along the transverse direction of testsection.

V. Data Interpretation

The next task after collecting data is to interpret it and arrive at our objective using suitable physi-

cal and mathematical logic. Here, we obtained all the measurement in terms of the height of the fluid in

manometer which needs to be converted into absolute pressure that will ultimately lead us to our objective

viz. estimating variation of meanflow velocity, RE with fan speed, lossed and power requirement for diiferent

fanspeed. One sample calculation is shown below to give an idea of how the results were achieved.

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Patm = 101300 N/m2

href = h3 = 8.9 cm Absolute pressure at point 1 ,

P1 = 101269 N/m2

Similarly calculating pressure at point 2 to get freestream pressure,

P2 = 101141.32 N/m2

Calculating freestream velocity using,

s

2(P1 − P2 )

V =

ρair

V = 14.46 m/s

ρair V

unitRe =

µ

unitRe = 892000

VI. Results

A. Empirical correlation between fan speed and mean flow velocity using least square fit

Table 1 shows the values obtained after calculation

450 7.124

550 9.081

650s 10.979

750 12.593

850 14.469

950 16.128

Now,

P P P

XY − X Y

n

m= P P

n X 2 − ( X)2

P P

Y −m X

b=

n

y = mx + b

After substituting the values following correlation was ontained. The results are plotted in figure 2

y = 0.017942 ∗ x − 0.8301

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Figure 2. Variation of Meanflow velocity in the test section with Fan speed. The points almost lie on the

straight line and can be infered that mean flow velocity vary linearly with the fan speed

Figure 3. The variation Re with Fan speed. It can be inferred from plot that Re and Fan speed followa a

linear relationship.

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B. Variation of Unit Reynolds no. with fan speed

Unit Reynolds number were calculated for different fan speed. A plot of variation of Re of the wind tunnel

with fan speed is shown in figure 3.

From the pressure measurements obtained from the manometer, velocity was found at an interval of 20mm

in the transverse direction of the test section. The variation of velocity along the transverse direction in the

test section is plotted in figure 4.

Figure 4. Variation of velocity in transverse direction. The velocity almost remain constant as depicted by

the graph indicating the effectiveness of the settling chamber.

D. Losses and power requirement for running wind tunnel at various fan speed.

The variation of losses happening from inlet to wiremesh and in the contraction section with the fan speed

is plotted in figure 5 and 6 respectively. Also the variation power requirement for running the wind tunnel

at various speeds is shown in figure 7.

VII. Conclusion

Subsonic Wind tunnel and its various components were studied thoroughly and Wind tunnel was cali-

brated successfully.

VIII. Acknowledgement

The experiment was guided by Prof. Vinoth B R and Ms Prashanthi G. Lab assitant Nasarudeen helped

in the operation of the wind tunnel. Extended support was provided in measuring the datas by colleagues

Ninish S. and Chirag S.

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Figure 5. Variation of mesh loss with fan speed. The losses in the section from inlet to wiremesh increases

almost linearly with fan speed

Figure 6. Variation of contraction loss with fan speed. The variation resembles second order polynomial but

can be approximated as linear at lower fan speeds

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Figure 7. Variation of power/testsection-area with fan speed. Curvefitting tool in Matlab using least square

fit indicated that cubic relationship holds good for this data plot.

8 of 8

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