NASA grant awarded to Boeing-led team for wind tunnel experiments

November 30, 2012

Two researchers from the Aerospace Engineering Division are part of a team led by The Boeing Co. that has been awarded $1.2 million from NASA.

Dr. Rodney Bowersox and Dr. Edward White, who are also faculty members in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University, will receive $590,000 to use the Oran W. Nicks Low-Speed Wind Tunnel for experiments on how active flow control can mitigate dynamic stall on helicopter blades. The experiments will focus on blades operating in the transonic regime. The flow control actuators will be designed by Advanced Fluidics LLC and integrated by Texas A&M and Boeing.

The project will include substantial improvements to the low-speed wind tunnel to increase its maximum speed to Mach 0.5 (385 mph). The tunnel typically operates up to Mach 0.25 and its current speed record is Mach 0.33. Higher speeds are necessary to explore why helicopter rotors fatigue quickly in high-speed forward flight and how active flow control might prevent this.

Measurements will include dynamic pressure readings for unsteady lift and pitch moment and high-resolution particle image velocimetry for off-body flow visualization. Achieving the higher speed will make use of the newly installed 3,000 horsepower wind-tunnel motor and will require other mechanical and electrical upgrades in the next 18 months.

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