Purdue University Graduate School
Geoffrey_Andrews_Dissertation_final.pdf (5.88 MB)

Acoustic Influences on Boundary Layer Transition in Hypersonic Wind Tunnels

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posted on 2022-07-29, 03:55 authored by Geoffrey M AndrewsGeoffrey M Andrews

Accurate and reliable prediction of laminar-turbulent boundary layer transition at hypersonic velocities is important for the development of a variety of practical high-speed flight systems currently under development. Boundary layer transition can cause up to an order of magnitude increase in skin friction and heat flux on a flight vehicle, meaning that understanding boundary layer behavior is critical to the design of weight-efficient thermal protection systems. Despite the importance of the topic, significant gaps remain in the community's current understanding of boundary layer transition and control. 

One of the biggest areas of concern in the field of high-speed boundary layer transition is the effect of facility noise on wind tunnel measurements. Conventional hypersonic wind tunnels are contaminated by freestream fluctuations which can be as much as two orders of magnitude higher than free-flight atmospheric conditions. These disturbances are typically produced by turbulent boundary layers on the tunnel walls; they are acoustic in nature and consist of pressure waves which radiate into the test section. This facility noise plays a leading role in high-speed transition phenomena in conventional hypersonic tunnels.

The current work studies the effects of facility noise on hypersonic transition using both linear stability theory and direct numerical simulation. A model for the freestream disturbance environment of the von Karman Facility's Tunnel B based on experimental measurements of the disturbance spectra present in the tunnel is created and used to study a past experiment performed in the same wind tunnel using a sharp cone and hollow cylinder. The results show that while linear stability theory accurately captures the behavior of second-mode instability growth, it fails to predict the growth of low-frequency instabilities recorded in the experiments. The stability theory analysis also suggests that very fine scale variation in nose tip geometry can play an outsize role in the development of boundary layer instabilities significantly farther downstream.

The direct numerical simulation demonstrates that, using an artificial body forcing term to implement the constructed tunnel noise model, the experimental effects of facility noise can be adequately captured with a sufficiently dense computational grid. For the conical geometry used in the experiments, calculations of surface heat flux indicate good experimental agreement with in prediction of transition location, and total temperature spectra extracted from the flow compare favorably with the experimental data as well. Visualizations of the flowfield confirm the onset of turbulence as a result of the freestream forcing. The computations also suggest that nonlinear interactions may be present in the turbulent breakdown region, leading to the production of streamwise streaks along the cone's surface. Transition on the hollow cylinder was not achieved due to suspected resolution issues, so detailed physical comparison of the two cases was not possible.

Overall, the results of this work suggest that direct numerical simulation is a capable tool for studying the effects of facility noise on hypersonic transition for simple geometries, albeit one which can be difficult to practically realize considering the required computational cost. Computational results indicate that two phenomena may play a role in the development of boundary layer instabilities for a sharp cone --- the fine-scale shape of the tip, which may change the behavior of the entropy layer near the nose; and the interactions between low- and high-frequency waveforms, which seems to cause nonlinear breakdown in line with current experimental understanding.


Predicting Hypersonic Laminar-Turbulent Transition with Direct Numerical Simulation

United States Department of the Navy

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Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jonathan Poggie

Additional Committee Member 2

Gregory Blaisdell

Additional Committee Member 3

Carlo Scalo

Additional Committee Member 4

Joseph Jewell

Additional Committee Member 5

Brandon Chynoweth