Leading-edge modifications based on designs inspired by the protrusions on the pectoral flippers of the humpback whale (tubercles) have been the subject of research for the past decade primarily due to their flow control potential in ameliorating stall characteristics. Previous studies have demonstrated that, in the transitional flow regime, full-span wings with tubercled leading edges outperform unmodified wings at high attack angles. The flow mechanism associated with such enhanced loading traits is, however, still being investigated. Also, the performance of full-span tubercled wings in the turbulent regime is largely unexplored. The present study aims to investigate Reynolds number effects on the flow mechanism induced by a full-span tubercled wing with the NACA-0021 cross-sectional profile in the transitional and near-turbulent regimes using computational fluid dynamics. The analysis of the flow field suggests that, with the exception of a few different flow features, the same underlying flow mechanism, involving the presence of transverse and streamwise vorticity, is at play in both cases. With regard to lift-generation characteristics, the numerical simulation results indicate that in contrast to the transitional flow regime, where the unmodified NACA-0021 undergoes a sudden loss of lift, in the turbulent regime, the baseline foil experiences gradual stall and produces more lift than the tubercled foil. This observation highlights the importance of considerations regarding the Reynolds number effects and the stall characteristics of the baseline foil, in the industrial applications of tubercled lifting bodies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Computational Mechanics
- Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
- Condensed Matter Physics