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Laboratory 8

Wind Tunnel Final Report

By
Aaron Crawford, Anne Holmes, Majd Salameh, Badr Alajmi

ENME 3070L
CRN: 47425
Date: 11/26/2018
Instructor: Don C. Warrington
I. Objective
The objective of this lab is to determine the coefficients of lift and drag of a Nerf football
(Sports Vortex Aero Howler) in the UTC wind tunnel. Additionally, we will describe the
relationship of these coefficients to the Reynolds number, Mach number, and angle of attack.

II. Theory
When an object is placed in a flowing fluid, there are several forces that act on the object
(Figure 1). Drag is a force that acts on the object tangential to the direction of flow and is a result
of the pressure applied across the surface of the object. Lift is another force that acts normal to
the direction of the flow and is caused by the pressure forces on the object. The objects that
experience lift do so because the object is asymmetrical in one or more directions, unlike a
sphere which has omnidirectional symmetry.

Figure 1​. Airplane mounted in a wind tunnel and the forces acting on the plane body.
Source: 

To study these forces, a wind tunnel is often used to simulate the effects of air flow of
various speeds. Objects are mounted inside of the wind tunnel and can be angled vertically
against the air flow - also known as the angle of attack (α in Figure 1). Wind tunnels are an
excellent tool for testing scale models of vehicles or aircrafts before the fully-sized product is
manufactured.
When considering flow over an object Newton created the following formula to describe
the drag:
F d = C * A * ρ * u2 (Eq 1)

Where F d is the force of drag, C is a constant, A is the cross-sectional area of the object,
ρ is the density of the fluid, and u is the velocity of the fluid. This equation does not account for
the viscosity of a fluid, thus, it is only partially accurate in determining the drag force .
The Mach number is also considered when determining drag. The Mach number is the
ratio of the speed of the object relative to the speed of sound in the fluid. The speed of sound can
be calculated using the following equation:

u(sonic) = √k * R * T (Eq 2)

Where k is the ideal gas constant, R is the gas constant, and T is the absolute temperature
. After many years of development, the drag equation does not look much different from its
early stages. By incorporating the Mach number, Reynolds number, and fluid viscosity, the
modern equation for drag is as follows:
ρ*u2
F d = Cd * A * 2
(Eq 3)

Where C d is the coefficient of drag, and A is the projectional area of the object
perpendicular to the fluid flow .
Wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics have become the leading methods for
testing small scale models before building full scale versions. The results of these methods can
be related to full scale model values using principles of dynamic similarity. Dynamic similarity
relies on the constants of the reynolds number of an object apart from its size. When the
devivation is worked out we find that the following is true:
Inertial f orce p*u*D
F rictional F orce = μ = Re (Eq 4)

Where μ is the viscosity, p is the density, u is the velocity, and D is the size of the object.
This relationship allows for the scaling of forces based on the scaling of size.
While drag as previously mentioned is based on pressure forces on a symmetrical body,
lift forces occur from the same forces when the object is not symmetrical and the pressure forces
are unequal. Lift allows airplanes to take off and fly due to the shape of the wing. Similar to the
equation for drag, the equation for the lift force on an object is as follows:
ρ*u2
F l = Cl * A * 2
(Eq 5)

With F l being the lift force and C l being the coefficient of lift. In testing airfoils,
dynamic similarity can be applied to relate a scale model to its full-sized application. The lift
force on an airfoil is a function of the angle of attack. As the angle of attack increases, the lift
increases until maximum lift is reached. This is called the stall point, where the force of lift no
longer helps to keep the object in the air.

III. Procedure

Before the Nerf football (Figure 2) could be tested in the wind tunnel, the mounting rod
had to be inserted into the tail of the football. Since the football has a long-distance tail, the rod
was inserted at a slight angle to be as close to the center of the tail as possible.

1) The mounting rod was inserted into the ball just below the tail.
2) The football was secured to the post inside the wind tunnel
3) The wind tunnel was closed and turned on.
4) Using the computer controls, the wind tunnel speed was increased to approximately
20-25 mph to test the football’s performance at a lower speed and the quality of the
mount. The speed was then increased to 30 MPH and the initial angle of attack was 0
degrees.
5) The digital (actual) wind speed was recorded, and forces of lift and drag were recorded.
6) The angle of attack was increased in increments of 2 degrees, and force readings were
taken at each angle of attack until the object has progressed past the “stall” angle.
7) The speed was then increased to 50 MPH.
8) Steps 5-6 were repeated for the higher speed of 50 MPH.
9) The coefficient of lift and the coefficient of drag were calculated.
10) The Reynolds number was calculated for each speed using the provided website .
11) A plot of the coefficient of drag and the coefficient of lift versus the angle of attack for
each speed was made. The stall point was identified on each of the graphs.
12) These plots were compared to those from the proposal report (for the airfoil and the golf
ball) and comparisons were made.

Figure 3. ​Wind tunnel used in this experiment.

Figure 4.​ Nerf football mounted at 0 degrees in the wind tunnel, air speeds are low -
approximately 10 MPH.

Figure 5.​ Aaron increasing the speed of the wind tunnel.

Figure 6.​ Nerf football mounted at highest angle of attack, 22 degrees, with wind speed
at 30 MPH.

Figure 7.​ Majd reading the lift measurement.

IV. Observed Data/Object Dimensions

Table 1.​ Dimensions of football.

Football Info
Area w/o tail* ( f t2 ) 0.10636
2
Area with tail ( f t ) 0.17927
3
Density of Air ( lb/ f t ) 0.07647
Effective length (​ft​) 1.0

Area of the football was approximated using the area of an ellipse ( area = Π * a * b ).
The tail area was approximated using simple rectangle and triangle shapes. The effective length
of the object was measured from the tip of the ball to the tail of the dart of the football.

Table 2.​ Observed data of drag and lift forces on Nerf football in wind tunnel at 30 MPH
Theoretical Wind Actual Wind
Angle of Attack (°) Lift (lbs) Drag (lbs)
Speed (MPH) Speed (MPH)
30 30.3 0 0 0.06
30 30.3 2 0.02 0.06
30 30.3 4 0.02 0.055
30 30.3 6 0.03 0.055
30 30.3 8 0.04 0.06
30 30.3 10 0.05 0.06
30 30.3 12 0.06 0.07
30 30.3 14 0.06 0.075
30 30.3 16 0.08 0.08
30 30.3 18 0.08 0.085
30 30.3 20 0.1 0.095
30 30.3 22 0.12 0.11
Table 3.​ Observed data of drag and lift forces on Nerf football in wind tunnel at 50 MPH
Theoretical Wind Actual Wind
Angle of Attack (°) Lift (lbs) Drag (lbs)
Speed (MPH) Speed (MPH)
50 47.6 0 0 0.13
50 47.6 2 0.01 0.13
50 47.6 4 0.04 0.125
50 47.6 6 0.06 0.135
50 47.6 8 0.08 0.135
50 47.6 10 0.1 0.14
50 47.6 12 0.14 0.145
50 47.6 14 0.18 0.156
50 47.6 16 0.22 0.18
50 47.6 18 0.24 0.2
50 47.6 20 0.28 0.25
50 47.6 22 0.32 0.25

V. Results and Discussion

Table 4.​ Drag and lift coefficients, Reynolds number, and Mach number for the tested airspeed
of 30.3 mph.
Football Observed Values Football Calculated Values
Air Speed 1: Lift (lb) Drag (lb) Angle (◦) Drag Coeff. Lift Coeff.
30.3 MPH 0 0.06 0 0.14271 0.0000
= 44.44 ft/s 0.02 0.06 2 0.14271 0.0476
0.02 0.055 4 0.13082 0.0476
Reynolds #: 0.03 0.055 6 0.13082 0.0714
278,098.98 0.04 0.06 8 0.14271 0.0951
0.05 0.06 10 0.14271 0.1189
Mach #: 0.06 0.07 12 0.16650 0.1427
0.0398 0.06 0.075 14 0.17839 0.1427
0.08 0.08 16 0.19028 0.1903
0.08 0.085 18 0.20218 0.1903
0.1 0.095 20 0.22596 0.2379
0.12 0.11 22 0.26164 0.2854
Table 5.​ Drag and lift coefficients, Reynolds number, and Mach number for the tested airspeed
of 47.6 mph.
Football Observed Values Football Calculated Values
Air Speed 2: Lift (lb) Drag (lb) Angle (◦) Drag Coeff. Lift Coeff.
47.6 MPH 0 0.13 0 0.12534 0.0000
= 69.8 ft/s 0.01 0.13 2 0.12534 0.0096
0.04 0.125 4 0.12052 0.0386
Reynolds #: 0.06 0.135 6 0.13016 0.0578
436,798.13 0.08 0.135 8 0.13016 0.0771
0.1 0.14 10 0.13498 0.0964
Mach #: 0.14 0.145 12 0.13980 0.1350
0.0626 0.18 0.156 14 0.15041 0.1735
0.22 0.18 16 0.17355 0.2121
0.24 0.2 18 0.19283 0.2314
0.28 0.25 20 0.24104 0.2700
0.32 0.25 22 0.24104 0.3085

For the two speeds that were analyzed, the coefficients of lift and drag increase as the
angle of attack increases. For all angles of attack, except one, the coefficient of drag values for
the airspeed 47.6 mph is lower than the coefficient of drag values for the airspeed 30.3 mph. This
is anticipated since the wake of the flowing air is resolved sooner for higher speeds. In other
words, the wake of the air flow is thinner at higher speeds creating less drag (Figure 8).
We noticed an interesting pattern regarding the lift coefficients that occurs before and
after an angle of attack of 14 degrees. For the lower speed (30.3 MPH), the coefficient of lift
values were greater than those for the higher speed (47.6 MPH) before an angle of 14 degrees.
After 14 angles, this changes and the coefficient of lift values for the higher speed were greater
than those for the lower speed. It is unclear as to why this occurred, but we theorize that 14
degrees may be a critical angle for the Nerf football. The throwing angle for maximum range is
45 degrees, so perhaps the Nerf football is designed to provide more lift at greater throwing
angles (closer to 45 degrees) to increase its ability to be thrown a long distance.
Figure 8.​ Comparison of wake size for two spherical objects. This occurs similarly with
the Nerf football where the top drawing represents a lower air speed, and the bottom drawing
represents a higher air speed. 
Figure 4.​ Coefficient of drag and lift vs. angle of attack at 30.3 MPH. Blue markers indicate the
drag coefficient, and red markers indicate the lift coefficient at each angle of attack.

It can be observed from the graph above, Figure 4, that both the lift and drag coefficients
are increasing as the angle of attack increases. At 0 degrees angle of attack, the coefficient of lift
is zero, and the coefficient of drag starts at 0.14271. The slope of the lift coefficient curve is
much steeper than that for the drag coefficient curve. At 10 degrees, the slope of the drag
coefficient curve begins to increase until both plots end at similar values of 0.2854 and 0.26164.
A stall angle was not reached for this speed due to equipment constraints. The largest angle that
could be tested with this wind tunnel was 22 degrees, and the Nerf football needs a greater angle
at the given speed to stall.
Figure 5.​ Coefficient of drag and lift vs. angle of attack at 47.6 MPH. Blue markers indicate the
drag coefficient, and red markers indicate the lift coefficient at each angle of attack.

For the higher speed of 47.6 MPH, the coefficient of drag does not start at zero, and the
slope of the plot is relatively constant up to an angle of attack of 14° (Figure 5). After 14
degrees, the slope of the drag coefficient plot starts to increase. For both speeds, the results
follow the expected trend: the drag coefficient will increase as angle of attack is increased. The
coefficient of lift starts at zero and increases at a relatively constant rate. Just after 21 degrees,
the coefficient of lift exceeds the coefficient of drag for the remainder of the plot. As with the
lower speed, a stall angle was not reached for 47.6 MPH due to equipment constraints. The Nerf
football needs a greater angle at the given speed to stall.
VI. Conclusion
This test was successful in calculating the coefficient of lift and coefficient of drag for
different angles of attack and air velocity. As shown in Table 2 and 3, the coefficients were
calculated for each speed and angle of attack. The maximum drag coefficients are 0.24 and 0.26
for the given speeds of 30.3 MPH and 47.6 MPH, respectively. The maximum lift coefficients
are 0.28 and 0.31 for the respective speeds. Air flows in a wind tunnel over and under the wings.
It is due to the shape of the wing, the pressure exerted on the top is lower than the pressure on the
bottom, creating lift. Then the lift coefficient increases with the increase of attacking angle and
speed of air.
This test was unsuccessful in determining the stall angle for the football. For both
speeds, the maximum allowable angle of attack (22 degrees) was tested but was not great enough
to cause the object to stall. The lift force did not decrease meaning a maximum angle was not
reached. If the testing apparatus was capable of tilting the Nerf football at higher angles, it is
likely the angle of stall could be found.The shape of objects which will under observation can
also push them closer to the ground rather than lift them up, like the airfoil also called a spoiler
on a car. The way the air travels over the car and airfoil force air over the car, adding additional
pressure (and thus force) downward. Racing cars use this to make tight turns without flipping or
skidding.
Some of the sources of error in this test come from the age of the equipment. Since the
values for lift and drag are read on analog dials, there could be systematic error in the accuracy
of the needles. There is also uncertainty associated with reading the values, and there is random
uncertainty.
This data is useful for several reasons, including that Nerf sports could use this data in
designing other footballs. They could create footballs that have less drag and therefore fly
further distances. This data also could be used to validate a computational fluid dynamics model.
By validating a computer based model, it would remove the need to test similar objects in a wind
tunnel. Additional experiments for determining coefficients of drag and lift on similar objects
would be more efficient.
If this experiment were to be repeated, a different/newer wind tunnel should be used.
This would allow us to test higher wind speeds and greater angles of attack. Additionally, a
newer wind tunnel with digital measuring devices would most likely improve the accuracy of the
results.
VII. ​ Sample of Calculations:
Given data of this experiment is:
Football Info
Area w/o tail* 0.10636
(ft2)
Area with tail 0.17927
(ft2)
Density of Air 0.07647
(lb/ft3)
Effective length 12 in
Ø Drag coefficient:

Where is the coefficient of drag, and A is the projectional area of the object
perpendicular to the fluid flow.
Here A= 0.17927 ft​2​ , density=0.07647 (lb/ft^3), u= 30.3 MPH
Reynolds No. =​278,098.98, ​Mach No. =​0.0398
For 0.06 lb
Then 0.14271
Reynolds No. =​436,798.13, ​Mach No. =​0.0626, u= 47.6 MPH
For 0.13 lb
Then 0.12534
Ø Lift coefficient:
Here A= 0.17927 ft​2​ , 0.07647 (), u= 30.3 MPH
Reynolds No. =​278,098.98, ​Mach No. =​0.0398
For 0.02 lb
Then 0.0476
Reynolds No. =​436,798.13, ​Mach No. =​0.0626, u= 47.6 MPH
For 0.01 lb
Then 0.0096
VII. References
 Don C. Warrington; Lift, Drag and Wind Tunnel Testing.
https://chetaero.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/wind-tunnel-testing.pdf, accessed
11/25/2018. Page 2-9.
 Don C. Warrington;Wind Tunnel Testing.
https://utclearn.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-589989-dt-content-rid-26165821_1/cou
rses/FA18.ENME.3070.47425/Fluid%20Mechanics%20Lab%208%20Handout%281%2
9.pdf, accessed 11/25/2018. Page 1-6.
 Glenn Research Center; Force Balance Coordinates,
https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/tunbalaxes.html, accessed 11/25/18.
 Don C. Warrington; Standard Atmosphere Computations.
http://paludavia.com/tamwave/atmos/, accessed 11/25/2018.
 Unknown; In laminar or turbulent flow, where will be the greater form,
https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-0a86da8f799bd44a3a29bb6734bae202-c accessed
11/26/18.
Appendix
Coefficient of Drag Sample Calculation
2F D 2 * 0.06 lbf * 32.2 f t/sec2
CD = ρu2 A = ft 2
0.0764 lbm
f t3 *
(44.44 s ) * 0.17927 f t2

C D = 0.14271
*These values are taken from Table 2 α = 2 degrees

Coefficient of Lift Sample Calculation

2F l 2 * 0.02 lbs * 32.2 f t/sec2
Cl = ρu2 A = lbs ft 2 2
0.0764 f t3 * (44.44 s ) * 0.17927 f t

C l = 0.0476
*These values are taken from Table 2 α = 2 degrees

Reynolds numbers were computed using the calculator found in Reference .