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The Boundary Layer and Reynolds Number

Viscous Flow = flow with friction Friction/Viscosity effects and boundary layers
turbulent laminar

Reynolds Numbers Airflow Separation Scale Effect

Friction Effects

Fig 1.24 top

Boundary Layer Theory

As airflow slows it tends to become less stable and mixes

Boundary Layer Theory

Air at the surface stops (transfer of momentum) The further from the surface the flow speed increases (not affected as much by viscosity) When the flow reaches free stream velocity boundary layer terminates

Velocity Gradients
Flow velocities are faster close to the surface for turbulent boundary layers

Friction Effects

Boundary Layer Development

Friction Effects

Boundary Layer Development

Laminar boundary layer
relatively thin layer occurring near leading edge smooth streamlines little vertical exchange of air particles stable airflow

Transition Region
smooth flow starts to break down waviness starts

Friction Effects

Boundary Layer Development

Turbulent Boundary Layer
thicker layer some distance aft of leading edge random streamlines significant vertical exchange of air particles unstable airflow laminar sub-layer may occur heat exchange greater than laminar flow

Laminar Boundary Layers Pros

The slower velocities near the surface cause less friction drag > laminar flow airfoils tend to be low drag airfoils

Since the flow is slower near the surface it will come to a stop sooner resulting in a stall at lower AOA Laminar flow airfoils do not do well at high angles of attack (AOA) > stall sooner

Turbulent Boundary Layers

The faster velocities (possess higher kinetic energy) near the surface are harder to slow down > this fact enables a wing to achieve a higher angle of attack and create more lift before stalling.

The faster velocities near the surface create more skin-friction drag.

Pressure Distribution for Conventional Airfoil

Pressure Distribution for Laminar Flow Airfoil

Friction Effects

Boundary Layer Development

Low skin friction makes laminar flow desirable for streamlined objects. Low kinetic energy makes laminar flow undesirable at high angles of attack which increases the probability of flow separation and the accompanying large increase in drag.

Reynolds Number
Laminar vs. Turbulent velocity viscosity, distance from leading edge density, Reynolds Number dimensionless parameter indicator of B.L. condition laminar turbulent

RNx = Vx/ Where:

RNx = Reynolds Number at distance x along the chord, ft. V=free stream velocity, fps

= viscosity
Note: decreases with altitude but /

increases with altitude

Reynolds Number
RN Lower
short chord low speed high altitude

RN Higher
long chord high speed low altitude

For a given flow the RN is proportional to the ratio of dynamic forces to friction forces. A flow with a higher Reynolds number is less viscous than one with a lower Reynolds number. We use RN to compare flow characteristics.

When Does the Boundary Layer Change from Laminar to Turbulent?

The Reynolds Number is used to predict the type of boundary layer that will occur.
RNx = Vx/

Reynolds Number
Flat Plate
Laminar to turbulent transition starts at RN 530,000 Transition complete at RNs of 20 to 50 million RNs of 1 to 5 million - partly laminar partly turbulent

RN effect on friction drag

Reynolds Number

Airflow Separation
Character of boundary layer influenced by pressure gradient favorable gradient(proverse/dropping) assists laminar flow unfavorable gradient(adverse/increasing) impedes laminar flow Increasing velocity = decreasing pressure Decreasing velocity = increasing pressure

Friction and Airflow Separation

Friction in the flow (viscous flow) causes
a tugging force (skin friction drag) slowing of the flow (loss of KE) and a pressure rise (adverse pressure gradient) and if the KE is not great enough airflow separation, which causes drag (pressure drag due to airflow separation) loss of lift

Airflow Separation and Pressure Drag

Distribution of Pressure

Airflow Separation or Stall

Friction and adverse pressure gradient causes the boundary layer to slow, reverse direction, and eventually to separate from the surface The oncoming free stream sees this region as a barrier and flows over it/around it (airflow separation) This results in a loss of lift and increased drag

Airflow Separation or Stall

Stall can be delayed by encouraging high speed air to get closer to the surface
This is called turbulating the boundary layer Vortex generators accomplish this

Airflow Separation or Stall

A boundary layer can also be turbulated by surface roughness (i.e. dimpled golf ball)

Drag on a Golf Ball

The turbulated boundary layer will stay attached to the ball/wing longer (higher kinetic energy) > Reducing the size of the wake (or flow disturbance) behind the ball. The smaller the wake the lower the drag due to pressure differences The net result of dimpling the ball(increasing surface roughness) is a reduction in total drag
the pressure drag decreases more than the frictional drag from the turbulent flow increases

Friction Effects

Laminar flow = low skin friction drag Turbulent flow = higher skin friction drag Separated flow = high pressure drag Attached flow = low pressure drag Golf/Tennis/Baseballs (ping pong balls?) Vortex generators

Streamlining and Drag

Airflow Separation
Skin friction drag reduces boundary layer kinetic energy. Premature stagnation of boundary layer occurs
when lower levels lack sufficient kinetic energy in the presence of adverse pressure gradient

Reverse flow on surface Subsequent airflow overruns stagnation point

Airflow Separation
Airflow separation occurs from:
High angle-of-attack
upper pressure gradient too adverse boundary layer cannot adhere to surface

Shock waves at transonic speeds

static pressure increases sharply through shock wave boundary layer loses energy through shock separated flow behind shock compressibility buffet

Extreme surface roughness on aircraft (heavy frost or skin damage) will increase skin friction drag and earlier airflow separation will cause reduction of Clmax and increased stall speed.

Airflow Separation

Airflow Separation

Prevention of boundary layer separation

Boundary Layer Control (BLC) Energize boundary layer Laminar versus turbulent boundary layer Vortex generators Slots/slats Blowing Remove de-energized (lower) portion of boundary layer Suction

Scale Effects

Scale Effect

Scale Effect
variation of aerodynamic characteristics with RN = scale effect extremely important in correlating wind tunnel data of scale models with actual flight characteristics of full size aircraft produce variations in
stall angle-of-attack / max lift coefficient /drag negligible affect on pitching moments

Scale Effect
So lift coefficient is actually a function of RN (i.e., in addition to being a function of AoA and shape) Effect of increasing RN on a given section Clmax increases stall AoA increases Cd decreases

Scale Effect

Scale Effect

Fact: For a given shape, lift coefficient and drag coefficient are a function of AOA, RN, and Mach Number(MN)
so a scale model will have the same lift and drag characteristics as the full scale item as long as the RN and MN are the same (thus RN and MN are referred to as similarity parameters)

Scale Effect

B-747 wing root RN

68.3 million
Mach 0.8 & FL 350

8.5 million
150 kts & S.L.

1/20 scale model 150 kts & S.L.