Receptivity of Swept Wing Boundary Layers to Surface Roughness: Diagnostics and extension to flow control

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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The research presented in this thesis focuses on the receptivity to surface roughness of swept wing boundary layers dominated by crossflow instabilities (CFI), providing insights into how surface roughness can be used to passively control the developing instabilities. Discrete roughness elements (DRE) arrays and distributed randomized roughness patches (DRP) are employed to investigate the physical phenomena governing receptivity and their impact on CFI onset. The supporting data combine numerical solutions of linear and non-linear stability theory with advanced experimental flow diagnostics.

This booklet is divided into three main parts. The first part investigates the flow mechanisms dominating the receptivity of stationary CFI to the amplitude and location of DRE arrays. The relation between the external forcing configuration and the initial instability amplitude is investigated, along with scaling principles allowing for the up-scaled reproduction of the swept wing leading-edge configurations, which provide experimentally observable configuration.

The second part of this research explores the stationary CFI receptivity to specific up-scaled roughness configurations, including both isolated discrete roughness elements and DRE arrays. These roughness elements are applied at relatively downstream chord locations to enhance the experimental resolution of the near-roughness flow field.

The isolated discrete roughness elements ensure strong boundary layer forcing, which helps to outline the relation between the near-element instability onset and the rapid transitional process. In contrast, the applied DRE arrays configurations provide boundary layers dominated by the development of CFI. In such scenarios, high-magnification tomographic particle tracking velocimetry identifies the dominant near-element stationary instabilities precursor to CFI. Specifically, the presence of transient growth and decay mechanisms in the near-roughness flow region is outlined, exploring their role in the receptivity process and in the CFI onset. This investigation results in the first conceptual map describing the receptivity of swept-wing boundary layers to a wide range of DRE array amplitudes.

Lastly, the acquired knowledge of the near-element flow topology is employed in the final part of this work to develop a passive laminar flow control technique for stationary CFI cancellation. This technique is based on the destructive interference of the velocity disturbances introduced by a streamwise series of optimally arranged DRE arrays. The performed measurements confirm a reduction in the developing CFI amplitude accompanied by a delay of the boundary layer transition. The compatibility of the proposed technique with the control of CFI developing in a realistic free-flight scenario is as well investigated.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Kotsonis, M., Supervisor
  • Ragni, D., Supervisor
Award date7 Sep 2023
Print ISBNs978-94-6366-719-7
Publication statusPublished - 2023


ERC Glowing project


  • Swept wing boundary layer
  • receptivity
  • transition
  • crossflow instability
  • laminar flow
  • surface roughness

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