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Master thesis report on

VORTEX SHEDDING AND AERODYNAMIC DRAG ON TRUNCATED


TRAILING EDGE AIRFOIL
Conducted during
February - June 2015

Submitted by:
Koushik Bangalore Gangadharacharya
Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Under the supervision of


Hans Mårtensson&Lars Ellbrant
GKN Aerospace, Trollhättan, Sweden

Examiner:
Prof. Arthur Rizzi
Aeronautical and Vehicle Engineering Dept.
Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.
K. Bangalore Gangadharacharya

Abstract

The thesis work content is to evaluate the use of more advanced turbulence models available in the ANSYS CFX
software for aerodynamic calculations. In particular for flows over airfoils with thick trailing edges, the turbulence
modeling is challenging to traditional methods, as both thin boundary layers as well as an unsteady wake needs to be well
represented. This is done by using the standard SST and then performing unsteady computations using the more advanced
unsteady SAS-SST model to get the relevant CFD results. By comparing to tests performed at GKN and results from
literature the improvement could be assessed in terms of modeling quality and computational cost. The results presented
give a good contribution to how the modeling of unsteady wakes can be improved and used for design purposes.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my thesis supervisors Hans Martensson and Lars Ellbrant at GKN for their kind support during
the project. I would also like to thank Arthur Rizzi who is my thesis examiner at KTH for his time and support.

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Contents
Nomenclature (SI units) .......................................................................................................................................................... 4
1. Introduction ......................................................................................................................................................................... 5
2. Methodology ....................................................................................................................................................................... 6
2.1 Numerical methods ....................................................................................................................................................... 6
2.2 Prediction methods........................................................................................................................................................ 7
2.3 Mesh.............................................................................................................................................................................. 8
2.4 Simulation ................................................................................................................................................................... 12
2.5 Time average ............................................................................................................................................................... 13
3. Description of Experiment ................................................................................................................................................ 14
4. Results and Discussion...................................................................................................................................................... 15
4.1 NACA 64-621 test case............................................................................................................................................... 15
4.2 GKN TET Airfoil ........................................................................................................................................................ 22
5. Conclusions ....................................................................................................................................................................... 25
6. Scope for Future work....................................................................................................................................................... 26
References ............................................................................................................................................................................. 27

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Nomenclature (SI units)

Cp Coefficient of pressure
Cpb Coefficient of pressure at airfoil base
c Chord length of the airfoil
D Base height of the airfoil
f Frequency of vortex shedding
k Von Karman length scale
LES Large Eddy Simulation
RANS Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes
Re Reynolds number
SAS Scale Adaptive Simulation
SST Shear Stress Transport
St Strouhal number
S Strain rate
TET Truncated tailing edge
u,U Velocity
URANS Unsteady Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes
Δp pin- pout
φ Loss coefficient
ρ Density
µa Viscosity of air at 25º C
µw Viscosity of water at 20º C
p1 Static pressure

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1. Introduction

The modern day numerical CFD prediction tool is validated with experiment results for vortex shedding and drag
prediction for the flow over truncated trailing edge (TET) airfoil (so-called flatback or thick trailing edge airfoil). As
discussed in [1], RANS numerical simulation and experimental data of TET airfoil demonstrates significant improvement
in subsonic lift characteristics compared to non-TET airfoil including higher maximum lift coefficients and less loss of lift
due to premature boundary layer transition. TET airfoil also serves as viable configuration of airfoil, connecting the
structural and manufacturing requirements for rotary turbine blades with acceptable aerodynamic performance. However,
TET airfoils exhibit higher drag levels due to the low pressure region in the wake of thick tailing edge. The adverse
pressure gradient allows vortices to form immediately after the trailing edge as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Vortex shedding at the blunt trailing edge [2].

Previous study of the drag on the TET airfoil by using RANS and LES numerical simulation suggests that 2D
numerical simulations over-predicts the drag by nearly 100%. However, same trend is not shown in case of 3D
simulations [3].
In this project, flow over the blunt trailing edge airfoil NACA 64-621-TET as shown in Figure 2 is simulated using
SST and SAS SST turbulence models on ANSYS CFX solver as a test case. The Cp distribution is determined, in
particular the base pressure coefficient Cpb is estimated for effectively 2D and 3D cases of NACA airfoil. The 2D
simulation results are then validated with effectively 2D wind tunnel experimental values conducted at Ohio State
University, Ohio [4].

Figure 2. Dimensions of NACA 64-621 TET airfoil [4].

Using the results of NACA 64-621-TET airfoil the order of magnitude of error is determined. Further, same
turbulence models are used to simulate the flow over GKN TET airfoil and the results are again validated with water
tunnel experiment conducted at GKN Aerospace, Sweden. By doing so, validation is made whether unsteady SAS SST
turbulence model can predict the drag and capture the wake vortices as a measure of Strouhal number (St) for the flow
over TET airfoil to assess the efficiency and accuracy of the model.

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2. Methodology

2.1 Numerical methods

The SST is a standard two-equation eddy viscosity turbulence model in CFD. It is expected to accurately predict the
onset and the amount of flow separation under adverse pressure gradient. The flow separation at the flat face of the TET
airfoil can be essentially related to the Cpb value as the adverse pressure gradient occurs at the base of the airfoil. SST
model is a combination of k-ω and k-ε turbulence models such that the k-ω is used in the inner region of the boundary
layer and switches to k-ε in the free shear flow [5]. SST turbulence model gives the steady state results for the flow.

The SAS SST (or just SAS) is a hybrid model used to solve an unstable flow conditions considered in this project.
SAS is based on the introduction of Von Karman length-scale into the turbulence scale equation. In SAS model, unstable
vortices in the wake of the airfoil are resolved based on Lνk shown in Equation 1 and Figure 3, which is governed by Von
Karman length-scale, strain rate and square of velocity gradient tensor. Whereas in LES model, wake vortices are resolved
based on grid size as shown in Figure 3. Therefore, SAS is expected have less grid influence compared to LES. At the
same time, SAS model provides standard RANS capabilities in stable flow regions. These capabilities of SAS can be well
utilized when the mesh resolution and the time-step is optimum for the considered flow conditions.

S
Lk  k (1)
 2U

Figure 3. Resolved vortex comparison in SAS with LES [6].

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2.2 Prediction methods

The drag due to pressure loss Δp for the flow over TET airfoil in a confined space as shown in Figure 4 is estimated
by Equation 2 and hence the loss coefficient φ can be defined as shown in Equation 4.

Figure 4. Flow domain.

D  p  Across (2)

D  CD  Abase  q (3)

p A
  CD base (4)
q Across

An important flow parameter in analysis of blunt airfoil profile is Cp and Cpb as defined in Equation 5 and 6. Due to
flow in a confined space, average pressure reduces at section-1 shown in Figure 5. Pressure drop is expected because of
reduced flow area at section-1 due to presence of airfoil. Hence Cpb1 is defined in Equation 7.

P  Pin
Cp  (5)
P 0in  P in
Pbase  Pin
C pb  (6)
P 0in  P in
Pbase  P1
C pb1  (7)
P 0in  P1

Figure 5. Flow domain with section-1.

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2.3 Mesh

2.3.1 NACA 64-621 test case

Typical structured grid for TET airfoil is created using ICEM CFD as shown in Figure 5. It has a uniform rectangular
grid in the wake, allowing the wake vortices to resolve.

Figure 6. Structured grid for NACA 64-621.

As mentioned before, 2D wind tunnel experiment results for NACA 64-621 TET airfoil is compared to CFD
simulation in 2D and 3D as a test case. Relation between the Cpb for the free-flow and blockage is estimated by simulating
the flow domain as shown in Figure 7 and 8.

Figure 7. Free-flow case grid for NACA 64-621.

The boundary walls in free-flow case are very far from the airfoil and are not expected to influence the flow.
Whereas in blockage case, it is expected to have boundary wall influence from top and bottom walls as a result of which
higher pressure drop is expected in the wake for blockage case compared to free-flow case. The blockage here is 10% of
the flow area.

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Figure 8. Blockage case grid for NACA 64-621.

The grid is effectively made 2D by having 2 cells in the transverse direction of the flow and the 3D grid is created by
having node density in transverse direction same as that on the base height D of the airfoil. The domain size for 3D case in
transverse direction is 3 times the base height D of the airfoil as shown in Figure 9. The free-flow grid has coarse and fine
variant to study the mesh influence on the flow as shown in Figure 10 and 11.

Figure 9. 3D grid for NACA 64-621.

Figure 10. Coarse grid for NACA 64-621.

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The fine mesh has thrice as many nodes as coarse mesh on base height. As steady state simulation does not require
higher mesh resolution, coarse grid is used to simulate the steady state SST turbulence model.

Figure 11. Fine grid for NACA 64-621.

2.3.2 GKN TET airfoil

The simulation conditions for GKN TET airfoil are same as that of water tunnel experiment. Hence the fluid domain
size in the simulation is same as water tunnel. A typical grid for TET airfoil is as shown in Figure 12.

Figure 12. Typical grid for symmetric GKN TET airfoil.

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To study the influence of mesh, the water tunnel simulation is run with coarse and fine mesh as shown in Figure 13
and 14.

Figure 13. Coarse grid for GKN TET.

Figure 14. Fine grid for GKN TET.

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2.4 Simulation

All the simulations are run on ANSYS CFX 15 solver. Initial prediction of Cpb is done using SST steady state
turbulence model and the order of error when compared to the experimental value is estimated. Further, Cp and Cpb
predictions are done using SAS SST unstable turbulence model and validated with experimental results.

The boundary conditions for both 2D and 3D NACA test case are shown in Table 1. NACA test case simulations are
run using air at 25º C for free-flow and blockage grid.

Table 1. Boundary condition for NACA test case.


Boundary wall Boundary condition
Airfoil No-slip wall
Side walls Translational Periodicity
Top and Bottom No-slip wall
walls
Inlet 16 m/s
Re 1 000 000

The boundary conditions for GKN TET airfoil simulation are shown in Table 2. Simulation boundary conditions and
domain dimensions are similar to water tunnel with water as the fluid model and no-slip walls surfaces as shown in Figure
15. The yellow marks on airfoil surface are the monitor points placed exactly on the same position as the pressure probes
in the experimental setup.

Table 2. Boundary condition for GKN TET airfoil.


Boundary wall Boundary condition
Airfoil No-slip wall
Side walls No-slip wall
Top and Bottom No-slip wall
walls
Re 750 000

Figure 15. Simulation setup for GKN TET.

SAS SST unstable simulations are run until the flow parameters in the airfoil wake are having a sustained periodic
variation (or oscillating constantly with time). To get a good estimate of flow parameters, simulations are run for about 20

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vortex shedding cycles. The expected value of shedding frequency f is determined by assuming St = 0.2 and the base
height D of NACA test case and GKN TET airfoil in Equation 8.

f D
St  (8)
u
Time average values of Cp and Cpb for SAS SST unstable simulations are compared to experimental results.

2.5 Time average

In case of unsteady wake flow Cp and Cpb values in the wake are periodically varying. Therefore the time average
value of Cp and Cpb are used for analysis and validation. The time average value fave for time varying function f(t) taken
over a time period of T is given by Equation 9.

1
f ave 
T  f (t )dt (9)

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3. Description of Experiment

The experimental data for GKN TET airfoil are obtained from water tunnel at GKN Aerospace Sweden. The
experimental rig with GKN TET airfoil, wake vortices and pressure probes on the airfoil surface is shown in Figure 16.

Figure 16. Experimental setup of GKN TET airfoil.

Pressure probes on the upper surface and the base reads the pressure distribution on the airfoil surface and base
respectively. The experimental Strouhal number and flow speed is determined by splitting the video into several frames
and following the water bubbles and vortex pattern [7]. The experimental Cpb and St is found to be -0.47 and 0.25
respectively.

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4. Results and Discussion

Both 2D and 3D simulations have shown interesting results. The following section will present the simulation results
with relevant discussions.

4.1 NACA 64-621 test case

4.1.1 SST 2D steady simulation

The velocity contours for 2D SST Steady simulation are shown in Figure 17, 18 and 19 for coarse, fine and boxed
mesh respectively.

Figure 17. Velocity contour for NACA 64-621 2D SST steady simulation with coarse mesh.

Figure 18. Velocity contour for NACA 64-621 2D SST steady simulation with fine mesh.

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Figure 19. Velocity contour for NACA 64-621 2D SST steady simulation with boxed mesh.

It can be seen from the Figure 17 and 18 that the velocity contours for coarse and fine looks alike. However, the
velocity contours for boxed mesh shows the boundary wall influence on the flow. The boundary walls are sufficiently far
in case of coarse and fine mesh. Hence it can be called free-flow condition or essentially blockage free.

As mentioned in earlier section, the flow in the boxed mesh has 10% blockage. Therefore the flow experiences drop
in the pressure and increase in velocity as it flows over the airfoil. The blockage and the pressure drop is schematically
represented in Figure 20.

Figure 20. Effect of 10% blockage in boxed mesh.

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The Cp distribution along the axis of the NACA 64-621 airfoil is shown in Figure 21. It can be clearly seen that the
pressure drops and recovers along the flow with higher pressure drop in case of boxed mesh compared to coarse and fine
mesh.

Figure 21. Cp distribution for NACA 64-621 2D SST steady simulation.

Table 3. Cpb value for coarse, fine and boxed mesh.


Mesh type Cpb
Coarse mesh -0.0389
Fine mesh -0.0349
Boxed mesh -0.1824

The Cpb value for the 2D SST steady simulation for NACA 64-621 airfoil is shown in Table 3. It can be seen that the
difference between Cpb value coarse and fine mesh is negligible compared to the order of magnitude of experimental Cpb
value [4] which is -0.21. Therefore, coarse mesh is sufficient to investigate the problem.

Using the Cpb values of experiment and free-flow simulation, the Cpb value for boxed mesh can be theoretically
predicted using equation 10 (notations can be related to Figure 5 for better understanding) [8]. As the Cpb in case of boxed
mesh is expected to be lesser than the free-flow case, first term in equation 10 represents the Cpb loss due to the blockage
and the second term represents the Cpb loss factor obtained from the experiment [4].
 u 
2
  u1 
2

C pb(box)  1   1  C 
pb(exp) 
 (10)
  uin    uin 
 
The theoretical prediction value of Cpb for boxed mesh case using equation 10 is -0.25 which is less than the Cpb value
for boxed simulation which is -0.18. It’s seen that the simulation predicts higher base pressure and hence under-predicts
drag.

Since the difference between the Cpb value for experiment and simulation for free-flow case is ∆Cpb= 0.17, we see that
the 2D SST steady simulation under-predicts the base pressure and hence the drag for both free-flow and boxed mesh.

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4.1.2 SAS 2D unsteady simulation

As we saw in the previous section, SST steady simulation largely under-predict the drag. Therefore, NACA 64-621
profile is simulated using SAS unsteady turbulence model with the same 2D coarse and fine free-flow mesh.

Typical velocity contour for SAS 2D unsteady simulation is shown in Figure 22 and 23. The instantaneous wake
vortex street is seen in Figure 22 and the time averaged velocity contour is seen in Figure 23.

Figure 22. Velocity contour for SAS 2D NACA case.

Figure 23. Time average velocity contour for SAS 2D NACA case.

It is clearly evident from the figure that SAS model is able to resolve the vortex for the given time-step and Reynolds
number. The Cpb value for coarse and fine mesh in case of SAS simulation is shown in Table 4 and the Strouhal number is
0.24 for both mesh.

Table 3. Cpb value for coarse and fine mesh using SAS.
Mesh type Cpb
Coarse mesh -0.4605
Fine mesh -0.5639

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The Cpb in case of SAS unsteady is lower than SST steady simulation. However that wake of the SST is longer than
SAS as shown in Figure 24. Therefore, with a lower value of Cpb, SAS over-predicts the drag due to wake vortices.

SAS Simulation SST Simulation


Figure 24. Wake comparison of time average velocity contour.

The 2D SAS simulation over-predicts drag because the wake vortices are confined to 2D and hence are not allowed to
breakdown in space. It can also be seen that the Cpb for fine mesh is lower compared to coarse mesh. This is because the
vortices are more resolved and hence sheds much faster as it is confined in 2D space.
From the SST steady and SAS unsteady simulations, we get a upper and lower limit for the Cpb prediction as shown in
Table 4 and gives a roadmap to use the SAS model in the best possible way to predict the Cpb within the acceptable range.

Table 4. Cpb limit for free-flow mesh.


Simulation type Cpb
SST steady simulation -0.0389
Experimental -0.21
SAS unsteady -0.4605
simulation

4.1.2a Mesh sensitivity study

The vortices breakdown soon after shedding 6-7 vortices as seen in Figure 22 and might have an effect on Cpb. This
was verified by having much finer mesh in the wake as shown in Figure 25 and the found no influence on Cpb, confirming
that the vortex breakdown point on the coarse free-flow mesh is sufficiently far from the airfoil base. Therefore, the coarse
free-flow mesh does a fairly good prediction.

Figure 25. Finer mesh in the wake.

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4.1.3 SAS 3D unsteady simulation

After estimating the upper and lower limit of Cpb, the coarse and fine mesh (or free-flow case) is essentially made 3D
by increasing the width of the domain, that is, by having the length and mesh density of the domain in transverse direction
to the flow equal to three times the base height of the airfoil, as mentioned in earlier section. By having a 3D mesh, wake
vortices are expected to resolve in 3D space and hence predicting better Cpb value.

A typical velocity contour for SAS 3D simulation is shown in Figure 26. In case of 3D mesh, the velocity in
transverse direction is significantly high as shown in Figure 27. This confirms that wake vortices are resolved in 3D space.

Figure 26. Velocity contour for SAS 3D NACA case.

Figure 27. Transverse velocity contour for SAS 3D.

The Cpb in this case is -0.28 which is closer to the experimental value of -0.21. This infers that by allowing the
vortices to resolve in 3D space SAS turbulence model predicts the Cpb better and closer to the experimental value. The 3D
vortices can be further visualized in Figure 28 showing the rear view of the flow domain.

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Figure 28. 3D vortices in SAS 3D NACA simulation.

Although the Cpb value is getting closer to experimental value by increasing the flow domain in transverse direction,
the variation of Cpb with simulation time shows a sub harmonic frequencies as seen in Figure 29. However, this effect may
seem to occur due to mesh being coarse in the wake, it needs to be investigated further.

Figure 29. Sub-harmonic variation of Cpb for SAS 3D.

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4.2 GKN TET Airfoil

Unsteady simulation of GKN TET airfoil with mesh dimensions same as water tunnel test rig described in earlier
section and using SAS turbulence model gives a typical wake vortices shown in Figure 29. It can also be seen from Figure
30 that the vortices are three dimensional and the transverse velocity is same as the domain inlet velocity.

Figure 29. Velocity contour for GKN TET airfoil.

Figure 30. Transverse velocity contour for GKN TET airfoil.

Further investigation of GKN TET SAS simulation shows a bow pattern in the wake when visualizing the vertical
velocity component as shown in Figure 31. The bow patter may be due to the interaction of vortices with the end wall of
the flow domain. As mentioned earlier, the walls of the mesh is made of no slip walls to replicate the same flow condition
as in water tunnel experiment. Therefore that end walls of the domain may cause the near wall vortices to slow down
compared to the vortices in the middle section and hence causing the bow patter. However, it could be studied further for
better understanding of the phenomenon.

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Figure 31. Bow pattern seen in vertical velocity component.

GKN TET airfoil was also analyzed using a coarse and fine mesh. The SST steady simulation of course mesh gives
Cpb of -0.25 whereas SAS unsteady simulation gives -0.37, both of which are far from the experimental value of -0.47.
However SAS simulation of fine mesh gives -0.46 which effectively is same as the experimental Cpb.

4.2.1 Validation Data

The CFD simulation and analysis of GKN TET airfoil are validated with the experiment results. Since the objective is
to asses the Cp and Cpb prediction capability of SST and SAS turbulence models, the Cp and Cpb distribution along the
airfoil for simulation is compared with the experimental values as shown in Figure 32. It can be seen that SAS simulation
curve matches well with SST simulation curve till the mid-point of airfoil and later follows the experimental curve.
Although there is a slight difference in the SAS and experimental Cp distribution, it is well in the acceptable range in an
engineering sense. Whereas SST simulation is way too far from the experimental results near the trailing edge and hence
it under-predicts the drag.

EXP CFD SST CFD SAS

0.00
0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60 0.80 1.00 1.20
-0.20

-0.40

-0.60

-0.80

-1.00

-1.20

-1.40 X/C

Figure 32. Cp distribution for CFD and Experiment.

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Comparing the Cp distribution across the base of the airfoil as shown in Figure 33, which is nothing but Cpb. It can be
seen that SAS curve is symmetric as expected and matches quite well with the experimental curve only in the left half.
This is because the experimental curve is asymmetric which is unexpected and unexplained at the moment. Effective the
right half of the experimental curve should have the same value as the left as seen in case of SAS curve. It is not the case
maybe due to error in the experimental setup or pressure reading probe. SST model under-predicts the drag and hence not
suitable for predicting the flow parameter in the presence of wake vortices.

EXP CFD SST CFD SAS

0.00
-150 -100 -50 0 50 100 150
-0.10

-0.20

-0.30

-0.40

-0.50

-0.60
ACROSS THE AIRFOIL BASE

Figure 33. Cpb distribution across the base for CFD and Experiment.

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5. Conclusions

The GKN TET airfoil considered in the project was analyzed by using SST and SAS turbulence model, and NACA
64-621 as the test case with fairly good mesh resolution. CFD prediction for various wake mesh resolution was studied
and found that SST model under-predicts the drag on the airfoil and the SAS model does a good prediction within the
acceptable error. The time-steps of 300 per cycle of vortex shedding allows vortices to resolve well for the given Re. The
value of St. is 0.24 which matches well with the experiment value.

The total simulation time to get a considerable vortex shedding cycles using SAS turbulence model for GKN TET
airfoil is about a week. Therefore, it can be concluded that the modern day CFD SAS model does a good job in predicting
Cp in a flow involving wake vortices due to blunt trailing edge with a simulation time of 1 week. Although SAS may seem
expensive in terms of computer capacity, one week is fairly acceptable time frame for an engineering project involving
CFD analysis of TET airfoils.

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6. Scope for Future work

The simulations in this project are run using fairly acceptable mesh resolution and time-step. Although the mesh
resolution and time-step seem to give a good prediction using SAS model, further studies could be made by having a
different mesh resolution and topology with optimized time-steps.

The end wall effect seen in Figure 31 should be investigated further to get better understanding of wake vortices
resolved by SAS model.

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References
[1] Van Dam, C. P., 2010, “Thick Airfoil with Blunt Trailing Edge for Wind Turbine Blades”, ASME Turbo Expo 2010,
Paper GT2010-23786.
[2] Van Dam, C. P., 2009, “Blade Aerodynamics – Passive and Active Load Control for Wind Turbine Blades”, Dept. of
Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Davis, Lecture.
[3] Stone, Christopher, Barone M.,Lynch C. E., Marilyn J., Smith, 2009, “A Computational Study of the Aerodynamics
and Aeroacoustics of a Flatback Airfoil Using Hybrid RANS-LES”, Proc. of 47th AIAA Aerospace Sciences
Meeting Including The New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition, Orlando, Florida. 273rd ed. AIAA, 2009.
Print.
[4] Law, S.P.,Gregorek G.M., 1987, “Wind Tunnel Evaluation of a Truncated NACA 64-621 Airfoil for Wind Turbine
Applications”, DOE/NASA/0330-2 NASA CR-180803.
[5] Menter, F. R. (August 1994), "Two-Equation Eddy-Viscosity Turbulence Models for Engineering Applications",
AIAA Journal 32 (8): 1598–1605, Bibcode:1994AIAAJ.32.1598M
[6] Egorov Y., Menter F., “Development and application of SST-SAS turbulence model in the DESIDER project”,
ANSYS Germany, ppt.
[7] Johansson U., “Water tunnel test of truncated airfoil”, VOLS: 10209642, GKN Aerospace Sweden.
[8] Martensson H., VOLS: 10205671, GKN Aerospace Sweden.

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