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INITIAL PROPOSAL

Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind


Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

Amir Karimi

Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) Mechanical Engineering


School of Engineering
Taylors University

Supervised by
Dr. Abdulkareem Shafiq Mahdi Al-Obaidi

6th May 2015

Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

CONTENTS
PAGE
Cover page.....i
Table of Contents...ii
1. Introduction........1
1.1 Background................................................................................................1
1.2 Project Scope..............................................................................................2
1.3 Project Objectives.......................................................................................3
2. Literature Review.......4
3. Research Methodology.......6
4. Expected Outcomes........9
5. Timeframe & Budget........10
6. References.11
Appendix........................................................................................................................12

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

1.

INTRODUCTION

1.1

Background

The field of wind engineering is one that has been continuously developing over the years.
Structures known as wind tunnels have been directly and indirectly involved in the
progression of wind engineering. Wind tunnels are devices that allow engineers to move air
over objects or vehicles and to visualize its movement patterns and other physical attributes
based on its aero dynamical properties. Air transport is increasingly evolving and is currently
the most popular type of transportation for long distances. Therefore, it is of utmost
importance that planes are able to perform at their peak while providing a safe atmosphere for
the passengers inside. One of the tools that assist in achieving these tasks is a wind tunnel.
These tube-shaped facilities are utilized by engineers at NASA in order to investigate scale
models of aircrafts and spacecrafts. Engineers are able to carry out tests on new materials and
shapes to employ as aircraft parts for the improvement of airplanes and their safety. The wind
tunnel functions by possessing powerful fans on one side which move air through the tube.
The model which is to be tested is secured in the test section of the tunnel and the air that
moves around the object. This actually portrays the nature of the object as if it is moving
through the air. Observation of air movement may be carried out by smoke or dye or even by
attaching a thread to the object being tested [1].
Wind tunnels also play an essential role in discovering newer and more efficient designs in
automobiles. Whole cars or some of their specific components such as grilles, side view
mirrors and roof racks are placed in wind tunnels to obtain their aerodynamic profiles. This is
especially vital in the race car industry whereby even minor adjustments and upgrades in the
car and its components can give it an edge in order to win an event. However, the purpose of
wind tunnels is not limited to aircraft and automobile testing. Wind tunnel testing and analysis
is also employed for stationary structures such as high-rise buildings, bridges and stadiums in
the architecture industry. A model of the structure and its terrain is constructed and placed in
the test section to collect data. The results of the measurements are then compared to
historical data of wind speeds at that certain area in order to forecast the effects of the wind
on the total load of the structure and possible aftermaths [2].
The aforementioned text portrays the significance of wind tunnel testing on different models
in wide varieties of fields and industries. With regards to wind tunnel testing, it is imperative
for researchers and engineers to be familiarized with the design of a certain model and the
physical quantities that optimizes its shape and size. The model that is being constructed must

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

have a shape and size that is exactly similar to the prototype to make sure that the
measurement of the aerodynamic characteristics is precise. In order to achieve the
enhancement of model shape and size, a number of tests have to be performed. These include
the direct measure of forces and moments, measurement of pressure and velocity as well as
flow visualization for diagnostics. Measurements involving force undergo some data
reduction to acknowledge the effects of Reynolds and Mach number on the model being
tested. The most important tests are the ones that present diagnostic information the properties
of air flow around and thru the model.
From the above-mentioned notes, it is critical to develop a model of correct shape and size so
that flow conditions in a low speed wind tunnel are not interrupted. The process of this
development must be carefully documented in detail to allow Taylors Wind Tunnel users to
understand, comprehend and design the optimal test model. The research questions that were
constructed for this project are shown below:

How can the negative effects of the shape and size of the model be reduced to ensure
proper velocity flow along the wind tunnel?

What are the effects of velocity distribution on the shape and size of a model in the
test section of the wind tunnel?

How can a test model be designed for optimal shape and size to provide and simulate
accurate aerodynamic characteristics at subsonic speeds?

1.2

Project Scope

A project scope displays the range and capacity of the research as well as an indicator of
immediate goals and objectives. The aim of this project is to design an optimal test model
shape and size for the test section of the Taylors Wind tunnel using analytical and
experimental methods. This is done by observing flow conditions for various types of model
shapes and sizes placed in the test section. It is vital that the experimental data collected as
well as the kinematic, geometric and dynamic relations are measurable. The results are used
to calculate velocity, lift, drag and other flow conditions that may be easily compared with
available facts and literature knowledge to assess its validity and make sensible deductions.
The designing of this model is attainable as the wind tunnel and several models are easily
accessible. Furthermore, there are a number of similar research articles and journals available
for reference. This final year project spans over a period of 9 months and two semesters. The
aim of the first semester work is mostly research based as it involves reading previous
journals and articles to obtain more information and facts about low speed wind tunnel

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

design. The second semester is concerned with the carrying out of specific experiments to
design the model and produce a user manual. However, as with any other project there are a
certain number of limitations that exist in this project. Firstly, this project mainly focuses on
wind velocity and is not concerned with analysis such as pressure distributions and other
aspects. The wind tunnel test section size is limited as well, and therefore does not allow for
testing of large models. This project also specifically studies the flow conditions at very low
subsonic wind tunnel speeds and is therefore not concerned with flow in high speed or
supersonic wind tunnel models. Lastly, there is not much time available during the course of
the project to obtain extremely detailed analysis and results.

1.3

Project Objectives

The following project objectives are developed based on the research questions:
1) Carrying out analytical and experimental design of several models to check the
boundary layer for the wind flow and to measure the velocity distributions at
different areas in the test section.
2) Comparing the results obtained with existing literature review to improve the
factors that dictate the best shape and size of the model in the test section.
3) Producing a user manual for Taylors Wind Tunnel users with a set of guidelines
on how to design an optimal model for low speed wind tunnel testing.

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

2.

LITERATURE REVIEW

The purpose of the literature review is to showcase previous research and work done on the
design specification of various models as well as exploring the effects of similarity rules in
each case. This research may then be related to the improvement of the shape, size and
positioning of the NACA 0012 model in the subsonic wind tunnel.
Bowden and Windley [3] carried out a wind tunnel experiment to examine the effect of
regional topography on the wind flow near ground surface. This was done by perpendicularly
placing four different sharp-edged escarpments with varying gradients against a rural
boundary layer simulation which was modelled to a 1:300 scale. A hot wire anemometer was
used to determine the resulting flows close to the slope surfaces. The results demonstrated the
modifications of mean wind speed, energy spectra and turbulence characterstics of the
escarpments. Upon further analysis, it was deducted that major changes in the turbulence
intensity only existed in the wake region behind the crest due to a presence of higher
frequency energies.
Diana et al. [4] built and tested a 1:250 scale model of a bridge over Stretto di Messina in a
wind tunnel at DMI. The purpose of the research was to determine aerodynamic bridge
behavior in both turbulent and laminar flow as well as flow that is normal to the bridge axes
and at yaw angles. The bridge response to turbulet wind flow was simulated by acquiring an
analytical approach in the time domain. The results of the numerical calculations performed
during the test indicated that the turbulent flow did not have a major role in the calculation of
critical wind speed for flutter instability, which had velocities of above 62m/s. The numerical
and experimental results were deemed to be satisfactory with the method presented due to the
angle of attack and reduced velocity values being within the aerodynamic parameters.
Laitone [5] tested rectangular platform wings at very small Reynolds numbers in a low speed
and turbulence wind tunnel. NACA 0012 lift and drag measurements were analyzed with
regards to cambered and thin flat plates. The test results revealed that a thin plate with a 5%
circular arc camber was the optimum profile for Reynolds numbers below 70000. This was
due to the fact that this specific thin plate profile generated the best lift-drag ratio at all levels
of turbulence, and produced the highest lift coefficient at all the angles of attack tested.
Zou et al. [6] investigated the distribution of salting sand grains velocity and energy in a
wind tunnel. Sand flow accounts for the deposition, movement and sorting of aeolian debris.
The wind sheer velocities of the experiment were adjusted to 0.63, 0.64, 0.74 and 0.81 m/s.
Upon statistical analysis of the results, it was deduced that the relationship between mean

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

velocity and the height of saltating grains could be represented by a power function. By
splitting the grain heights into intervals of 0.5cm, there was a consistency observed between
different level sand grain velocities and the Pearson VII distribution pattern. Depending on
the wind velocity, a height of 6cm was noted to produce the maximum values of kinetic and
total energy, with the tendency of altitude increment occuring at higher wind velocity.
Feng et al. [7] studied the sidewall effects of wind tunnels on and mass flux and wind velocity
in aerolian sand transport. The experiment was operated at a height of 120cm and different
widths of 40, 60, 80, 100 and 120 cm to obtain wind velocity and sand mass flux profiles at
different areas in the test section of the wind tunnel. Analysis of the results displayed that a
combination of wind velocity and saltation from the sidewall to the central line of the wind
tunnel first increases in value before decreasing to a minimum. The reliability and similarity
of the wind velocity results at different areas in the test section was also noted to increase
when the tunnel width was decreased.
Wu et al. [8] measured airflow of a sized-down barchan dune model in the wind tunnel. In
this case, the alteration of the flow speed above the stoss side is shown by the speed-up ratio
change. In accordance to the measurement performed in the field, it was discovered that the
wind profiles over the stoss can be separated into two sections. Within the inner-boundary
layer, the wind profiles display varying friction velocities across the lower segment. The
friction velocity rose between the inter-dune region and the upper stoss, then declined at the
top of the dune. The change in friction velocity across different regions as well as the changes
in speed-up ratio, sand flux and airflow field dictate the shape and height of the dune. Testing
in the wind tunnel provided similar airflow variations as the field, with increasing speed-up
ratio values up to and more than 1.0 and decreasing friction velocities across the stoss slope,
implicating a very thin boundary layer above the model.
As it can be observed from the aforementioned literature review, a lot of research has been
previously done to test various designs of different models for flow. However, there has not
been any specific research that solely focuses on test model size and shape optimization.
Therefore, by using a combination of test results obtained from previous researchers work and
self performed experiments, there should be enough knowledge to close this gap in this
particular field of research.

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

3.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Start

Background research and literature review on project

Initial wind tunnel testing to observe flow velocity in test section

Compare with previous


results

No

Yes
Designing of test model size and shape

Analytical approach of model design

Experimental approach of model design

Experiment conduction of airflow


behavior in wind tunnel

Extraction of equation for model


size and shape design

Comparison of analytical
and experimental results
with literature review

No

Yes
Building optimum test model based on results

Documentation of optimal test model design

End
Figure 1. Research Methodology Flow Chart

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

In order to successfully accomplish all the goals of this project specified in the scope, it is
vital to obtain an understanding of the procedures and methods used during the course of the
research. The above flow chart displays the overall research design that has been undertaken
in this project. This research is quantitative as it involves the generation of numerical data and
viable statistics. The measured data may be employed to discover useful facts and patterns
regarding the research. Data collection methods in quantitative research include the usage of
different types of surveys, interviews, online polls and systematic observations. In this
research systematic observations are to be the most used method in data collection. All of the
experiments are conducted in Taylors laboratories.
As with any other project, it is crucial to obtain basic knowledge, facts and information about
a subject before attempting any further analysis. The background research and literature
review is the first step of this project and its role is to familiarize the user about the field of
work and its applications while providing insight about similar work done by other
researchers. The outcome of the experiments obtained from the literature review may be
employed to check, compare and analyze the users results.
The next step in the research methodology process is to perform a number of experiments in
the wind tunnel in order to get acquainted with it and its principles. Examples of these
experiments include obtaining the wind flow velocity at different points in the test section of
the wind tunnel, and attaining a relation between frequency and wind velocity at a specific
point at the test section. The results obtained are demonstrated in the form of tables and
graphs and compared to similar previous reports in order to validate its accuracy and to
discuss how the outcome could be improved for future measurements. Upon agreement of the
results, the user is able to move on to the next step of designing the test model shape and size.
In this project, the design process is separated into two different methods, namely the
analytical approach and the experimental approach. The analytical approach consists of
performing theoretical calculation using Bernoullis equations and the rules of similarity to
extract equations needed to design the test model size based on flow conditions. The
experimental approach includes performing a variety of experiments in the wind tunnel to
observe the flow conditions on different models.
The analytical and experimental results are then compared to each other as well as previous
similar literature review in the form of equations, tables and graphs to assess the reliability
and accuracy of the outcomes. If the results are satisfactory, the test model is designed
according to the results obtained. Finally the whole procedure is noted in the form of a user
manual to guide future users on designing the best model.

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

The main equipment used during the course of this project include the Taylors Kruger Low
Speed Wind Tunnel. Several types of flow DAQ are used to measure flow conditions in the
test sections in the wind tunnel. One of the most common instruments used is the Hot Wire
Anemometer & Data Logger which is used to measure wind velocity in the test section. The
anemometer is connected to the data logger and its tip is passed through any of the holes
present in the bottom wall of the test section. The wind tunnel is set and its frequency is
adjusted, and the velocity of the ensuing wind is displayed on the data logger.
The data analysis in this research is mostly with obtaining velocity flow conditions of
different models. However, other aerodynamic forces are to be measured and analyzed as
well. These include the lift and drag forces and total pressure measurement. It is best to
display the results of the data in tables and graphs in order to extract facts from it and make
valid comparisons and conclusions.
In order to portray a realistic and complete research methodology, the limitations of the work
done must be mentioned. As specified in the project scope, there are a few limitations that
exist within this project. One of these is that the size of the wind tunnel test section is quite
small and it runs at very low subsonic speeds. As such, flow visualization of models at higher
speeds or bigger than test section size are not able to be carried out. Furthermore, the time
given for this final year project is quite short for providing completely viable and reasonable
results since there is not much time for testing, experimentation an trial and error. Lastly,
there is not much similar literature review offered on the designing of an optimal low speed
wind tunnel model, which makes discovering facts and comparing results a bit more tedious
and difficult when it comes to this particular topic.

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

4.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

Upon completion of the research methodology and the project objectives, the following final
outcomes are to be expected.

The implementation and design of a test model to be used in Taylors subsonic wind
tunnel. The improved design should be superior in shape and size to allow smooth
flow and allow for accurate aerodynamic characteristic measurement.

Observing and analyzing flows of different test models to gain a better understanding
of its aerodynamics.

Passing on the design and experimental knowledge obtained in the form of a user
manual and guide so that future users are able to refer to it when designing a test
model.

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

5.

TIMEFRAME & BUDGET

Figure 2. Gantt Chart of FYP 1 & 2

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

The above figure displays the Gantt chart for the entire project. It demonstrates the types of
tasks involved in the project and the timeline to complete each of them. In order to
successfully visualize the timeframe, each of the dates is set between 20 days. The 20 days
time period is split in 5 sections, which shows that there are 4 days displayed within each
section. This was done to maintain a professional timeline structure while allowing easy
tracking of dates.
Since this project is entirely carried out in the Taylors university labs and the equipment used
for the testing and experimentation is already available, there is no budget consideration
involved.

6.

REFERENCE

[1]

D. Hitt, 'What Are Wind Tunnels?', NASA, 2014. [Online]. Available:


http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/what-are-wind-tunnels58.html#.VT6HRyGqpBc. [Accessed: 23- Apr- 2015].
D. Campo, 'Wind Tunnel Testing', Stratasys.com, 2010. [Online]. Available:
http://www.stratasys.com/~/media/main/files/applications/ag-windtunnel-0109.ashx.
[Accessed: 24- Apr- 2015].
A. Bowen and D. Lindley, 'A wind-tunnel investigation of the wind speed and
turbulence characteristics close to the ground over various escarpment shapes',
Boundary-Layer Meteorology, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 259-271, 1977.
G. Diana, M. Falco, S. Bruni, A. CIgada, G. Larose, A. Darnsgaard and A. Collina,
'Comparisons between wind tunnel tests on a full aeroelastic model of the proposed
bridge over Stretto di Messina and numerical results', Journal of Wind Engineering
and Industrial Aerodynamics, vol. 54-55, pp. 101-113, 1995.
E. Laitone, 'Wind tunnel tests of wings at Reynolds numbers below 70 000',
Experiments in Fluids, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 405-409, 1997.
X. Zou, Z. Wang, Q. Hao, C. Zhang, Y. Liu and G. Dong, 'The distribution of
velocity and energy of saltating sand grains in a wind tunnel', Geomorphology, vol.
36, no. 3-4, pp. 155-165, 2001.
D. Feng, Z. Li and J. Ni, 'Sidewall effects of a wind tunnel on wind velocity and mass
flux in aeolian sand transport', Geomorphology, vol. 106, no. 3-4, pp. 253-260, 2009.
X. Wu, X. Zou, Z. Zheng and C. Zhang, 'Field measurement and scaled-down windtunnel model measurement of airflow field over a barchan dune', Journal of Arid
Environments, vol. 75, no. 5, pp. 438-445, 2011.

[2]

[3]

[4]

[5]
[6]

[7]
[8]

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

APPENDIX
To prepare and get familiarized with the wind tunnel, a simple experiment is carried out. The
aim of this experiment is to check and assess a relation between frequency and velocity for
conducting experiments in the wind tunnel. A plate with a small hole situated at the center is
used for the bottom of the test section. Data is collected by placing a hot wire anemometer
through the bottom hole into the wind tunnel test section and running the device at different
frequencies. The data collected is used to plot a frequency versus velocity graph to show the
relationship between the two. It can be seen from the linear graph that frequency adjusted in
the wind tunnel is proportional to velocity of wind produced.
Table 1. Results of frequency and velocity

Frequency Velocity
(Hz)
(m/s)
0
0
5
3.05
10
6.2
15
9.3
20
12.65
25
15.7
30
18.95
35
22.5
40
25.8
45
29.8

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

Figure 3. Graph of frequency against velocity

As it can be observed from both the values in the table and the graph, velocity and frequency
in the test section of the wind tunnel are directly proportional to each other. It is physically
known that if frequency is zero, velocity will also be equal to zero. Another interesting thing
to note is that an increment of 5 Hz brings about an approximate increase of 3 m/s in the value
of the velocity each time. However, this value increases to an increment of 4 m/s at higher
frequencies as there are other factors at play as well. The graph drawn is one of linear
regression and is well suited to the nature of the experiment.

This experiment was done by senior students a semester ago and this is the graph they
produced.

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Design of Optimal Shape and Size of Test Model used in Wind Tunnels at Low Subsonic Speeds

Figure 4. Seniors graph of frequency against velocity

The seniors went on to analyze velocities at different locations in the test section of the wind
tunnel. Theoretically the wind flow in the center of the test section is considered to be laminar
and smooth. However, this is not the case for areas closer to the walls of the test section due
to the boundary layers present there. In comparison, it can be seen that both graphs have
exactly similar gradient which displays the accuracy and precision of the results of both
experiments. The experiment can be deemed a success since the results agree with each other.

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