Modeling the Effect of Wind Tunnel Walls on Wingtip Vortex Development
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Daniel Sabatino, Dr. Tobias Rossmann
The measurements of forces acting on an airfoil in a small confined wind tunnel are complicated by the interactions between the airflow around a wing and the surrounding walls. Data from such a wind tunnel does not match free-flight data, motivating the study of this discrepancy’s sources. One of the most significant ones is the walls’ influence on the wingtip vortex development. Wingtip vortices result from the pressure differential around the tip of a finite aspect ratio wing causing a rollup of vorticity. Testing shows that these vortices are affected, in strength, position, and orientation, by the proximity of the wingtip to the wind tunnel wall. To be able to better understand the effect of limited test-section cross-sectional area in a wind tunnel and the effect of the tunnel's walls on the wingtip vortices, a detailed comparison between experimental data and computational simulations is undertaken at pre-stall angles of attack of a Clark-Y airfoil. From this comparison a model will be sought to correct lift and drag measurements from a small open-loop undergraduate scale wind tunnel to be able to better compare them to large wind tunnel and free-flight measurements. Especially in an undergraduate setting, this has the potential of making small wind tunnel testing more relevant and useful in the future.
About Tobias Gloesslein:
Tobias Gloesslein is a senior Mechanical Engineering major at Lafayette College. Under the supervision of Dr. Tobias Rossmann and Dr. Daniel Sabatino he has been researching the effect of wind tunnel walls on wingtip vortex development in a small subsonic wind tunnel for almost two years. He has done this as an EXCEL and thesis student. While being enthusiastic about computational and experimental fluid dynamics he also shows great interest in control systems and mechatronics. Tobias is looking to pursue a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in Germany after graduation.