Aerodynamic interaction between propellers of a distributed-propulsion system in forward flight

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Abstract

This article describes an experimental investigation of the aerodynamic interaction that occurs between distributed propellers in forward flight. To this end, three propellers were installed in close proximity in a wind tunnel, and the changes in their performance, flow-field characteristics, and noise production were quantified using internal force sensors, total-pressure probes, particle-image velocimetry (PIV), and microphones recessed in the wind-tunnel wall. At the thrust setting corresponding to maximum efficiency, the efficiency of the middle propeller is found to drop by 1.5% due to the interaction with the adjacent propellers, for a tip clearance equal to 4% of the propeller radius. For a given blade-pitch angle, this performance penalty increases with angle of attack, decreasing thrust setting, or a more upstream propeller position, while being insensitive to the rotation direction and relative blade phase angle. Furthermore, the velocities induced by the adjacent propeller slipstreams lead to local loading variations on the propeller disk of 5% – 10% of the average disk loading. Exploratory noise measurements show that the interaction leads to different tonal noise waveforms of the system when compared to the superposition of isolated propellers. Moreover, the results confirm that an active control of the relative blade phase angles between propellers can effectively modify the directivity pattern of the system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107009
Number of pages20
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
Volume118
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Distributed propulsion
  • Experimental aerodynamics
  • Propeller interaction
  • Propeller performance

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