Effects of Forward- and Backward-Facing Steps on Boundary-Layer Transition at Mach 6 FINAL CYam.pdf (42.88 MB)
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Effects of Forward- and Backward-Facing Steps on Boundary-Layer Transition at Mach 6

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posted on 18.04.2022, 13:54 authored by Christopher YamChristopher Yam
Wind-tunnel experiments with a sharp 7-degree half-angle cone and a 33% scale Boundary Layer Transition (BOLT) model were performed in the Boeing/AFOSR Mach 6 Quiet Tunnel to investigate the effects of forward- and backward-facing steps on boundary-layer instability and transition. Each model was modified to include intentional steps just downstream of the nosetip. Experiments were performed at different freestream Reynolds numbers and varying step sizes. Infrared thermography was used to calculate surface heat transfer, and high-frequency pressure sensors were used to measure pressure fluctuations. A replica measurement technique was used to accurately measure step heights on the BOLT flight vehicle and the wind tunnel model.

A 7-degree half-angle cone was tested at 0-degree and 6-degree angles of attack. Step heights ranged from 0.610 mm to 1.219 mm. At a 0-degree angle of attack, no significant increases in heat transfer were observed with any of the forward- or backward-facing steps. However, a 250 kHz instability was measured with the forward-facing steps. Growth of the instability was similar to a second-mode. At a 6-degree angle of attack, an increase in heat transfer was observed on the windward ray with the forward-facing steps. Sharp increases in heating rates and increased pressure fluctuations were indications of boundary-layer transition. Elevated heating rates and pressure fluctuations were not measured with the backward-facing steps.

The BOLT model was tested at 0-degree, 2-degree, and 4-degree angles of attack and 2-degree and 4-degree yaw angles. Step heights ranged from 0.076 mm to 1.016 mm. At a 0-degree angle of attack and 0-degree yaw angle, thin wedges of heating were observed with the backward-facing steps. Instabilities were measured near these wedges of heating and are thought to be caused by a secondary instability. The effects of the steps were magnified on the windward side of the BOLT model at angles of attack. Wedges of heating were wider and more intense. At higher angles of attack, the onset of heating was further upstream. Sensors near and directly underneath the wedges of heating measured pressure fluctuations that were indicative of a turbulent flow. Wedges of heating were also observed at a 4-degree yaw angle, but only with the 1.016 mm backward-facing step.


Experimental Studies of Instability and Transition in a Mach-6 Quiet Tunnel

United States Air Force

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Degree Type

Master of Science


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Steven P. Schneider

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Joseph S. Jewell

Additional Committee Member 2

Bradley M. Wheaton