Mathematical methods fill in experimental gaps in wind tunnel tests of laminar flow control
Reducing turbulent air flow over air foils is fundamental to safe, efficient flight that minimises fuel consumption. Laminar flow control techniques are aimed at ensuring that the air is moving in a very orderly way over the air foil, as if moving in infinite smooth parallel layers. Developing these systems requires testing, and testing of such large structures requires wind tunnels equipped with the appropriate hardware and software to run the test, collect the data and analyse it. The EU-funded ALVAR project is testing a promising laminar flow control system in one of the world's largest low-speed facilities. The team is developing analysis methods able to extract local flow rates (not measurable experimentally) with very well-defined uncertainty levels, leading to a comprehensive evaluation of suction on the surface of the air foil.
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