A coupled lattice Boltzmann-Navier-Stokes methodology for drag reduction
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Helicopter performance is greatly influenced by its drag. Pylons, fuselage, landing gear, and especially the rotor hub of a helicopter experience large separated flow regions, even under steady level flight conditions the vehicle has been designed for, contributing to the helicopter drag. Several passive and active flow control concepts have been studied for reducing helicopter drag. While passive flow control methods reduce drag, they do so at one optimized design condition. Therefore, passive drag reduction methods may not work for helicopters that operate under widely varying flight conditions. Active flow control (AFC) methods overcome this disadvantage and consequently are widely being pursued. The present investigator has studied some of these AFC methods using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques and has found synthetic (or pulsed) jets as one of the more effective drag reduction devices. Two bluff bodies, representative of helicopter components, have been studied and the mechanism behind drag reduction has been analyzed. It was found that the increase in momentum due to the jet, and a resultant reduction in the separated flow region, is the main reason for drag reduction in these configurations. In comparison with steady jets, synthetic jets were found to use less power for a greater drag reduction. The flow inside these synthetic jet devices is incompressible. It is computationally inefficient to use compressible flow solvers in incompressible regions. In such regions, using Lattice Boltzmann equations (LBE) is more suitable compared to solving the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations. The length scales close to the synthetic jet devices are very small. LBE may be used to better resolve these small length scale regions. However, using LBE throughout the whole domain would be computationally expensive since the grid spacing in the LBE solver has to be of the order of the mean free path. To address this need, a coupled Lattice Boltzmann-Navier-Stokes (LB-NS) methodology has been developed. The LBE solver has been successfully validated in a standalone manner for several benchmark cases. The solver has also been shown to be of second order accuracy. This LBE solver has been subsequently coupled with an existing Navier-Stokes (NS) solver. Validation of the coupled methodology has been done for analytical problems with known closed form solution. This LB-NS methodology is further used to simulate the flow past a cylinder where synthetic jet devices have been used to reduce drag. The LBE solver is used in the cavity of the synthetic jet nozzle while the NS solver is employed in the rest of the domain. The cylinder configuration was chosen to demonstrate drag reduction on helicopter hub shape geometries. Significant drag reduction is observed when synthetic jets are used, compared to the baseline no flow control case.