Prediction of leading-edge-vortex initiation using criticality of the boundary layer
Ramanathan, H., & Gopalarathnam, A. (2023, May 13). THEORETICAL AND COMPUTATIONAL FLUID DYNAMICS.
The initiation of leading-edge-vortex formation in unsteady airfoil flows is governed by flow criticality at the leading edge. While earlier works demonstrated the promise of criticality of leading-edge suction in governing LEV shedding, this criterion is airfoil and Reynolds number dependent. In this work, by examining results from Navier–Stokes computations for a large set of pitching airfoil cases at laminar flow conditions, we show that the onset of flow reversal at the leading edge always corresponds to the boundary-layer shape factor reaching the same critical value that governs laminar flow separation in steady airfoil flows. Further, we show that low-order prediction of this boundary-layer criticality is possible with an integral-boundary-layer calculation performed using potential-flow velocity distributions from an unsteady panel method. The low-order predictions agree well with the high-order computational results with a single empirical offset that is shown to work for multiple airfoils. This work shows that boundary-layer criticality governs LEV initiation, and that a low-order prediction approach is capable of predicting this boundary-layer criticality and LEV initiation.