Journal of Fluid Mechanics

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Stability and receptivity characteristics of a laminar separation bubble on an aerofoil

L. E. JONESa1 c1, R. D. SANDBERGa1 and N. D. SANDHAMa1

a1 Aerodynamics And Flight Mechanics Research Group, School of Engineering Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK

Abstract

Stability characteristics of aerofoil flows are investigated by linear stability analysis of time-averaged velocity profiles and by direct numerical simulations with time-dependent forcing terms. First the wake behind an aerofoil is investigated, illustrating the feasibility of detecting absolute instability using these methods. The time-averaged flow around an NACA-0012 aerofoil at incidence is then investigated in terms of its response to very low-amplitude hydrodynamic and acoustic perturbations. Flow fields obtained from both two- and three-dimensional simulations are investigated, for which the aerofoil flow exhibits a laminar separation bubble. Convective stability characteristics are documented, and the separation bubble is found to exhibit no absolute instability in the classical sense; i.e. no growing disturbances with zero group velocity are observed. The flow is however found to be globally unstable via an acoustic-feedback loop involving the aerofoil trailing edge as a source of acoustic excitation and the aerofoil leading-edge region as a site of receptivity. Evidence suggests that the feedback loop may play an important role in frequency selection of the vortex shedding that occurs in two dimensions. Further simulations are presented to investigate the receptivity process by which acoustic waves generate hydrodynamic instabilities within the aerofoil boundary layer. The dependency of the receptivity process to both frequency and source location is quantified. It is found that the amplitude of trailing-edge noise in the fully developed simulation is sufficient to promote transition via leading-edge receptivity.

(Received February 06 2009)

(Revised October 28 2009)

(Accepted October 29 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Email address for correspondence: ljones@soton.ac.uk

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