Research Article

Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 53, Issue 5, pp 1545-1560

First online:

Pulsed, high-power LED illumination for tomographic particle image velocimetry

  • Nicolas A. BuchmannAffiliated withLaboratory for Turbulence Research in Aerospace and Combustion, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Monash University Email author 
  • , Christian E. WillertAffiliated withGerman Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Propulsion Technology, Engine Measurement Systems
  • , Julio SoriaAffiliated withLaboratory for Turbulence Research in Aerospace and Combustion, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Monash UniversityDepartment of Aeronautical Engineering, King Abdulaziz University

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This paper investigates the use of high-power light-emitting diode (LED) illumination for tomographic particle image velocimetry (PIV) as an alternative to traditional laser-based illumination. Modern solid-state LED devices can provide averaged radiant power in excess of 10 W and by operating the LED with short high current pulses theoretical pulse energies up to several tens of mJ can be achieved. In the present work, a custom-built drive circuit is used to drive a Luminus PT-120 high-power LED at pulsed currents of up to 150 A and 1 μs duration. Volumetric illumination is achieved by directly projecting the LED into the flow to produce a measurement volume of ≈3–4 times the size of the LED die. The feasibility of the volumetric LED illumination is assessed by performing tomographic PIV of homogenous, grid-generated turbulence. Two types of LEDs are investigated, and the results are compared with measurements of the same flow using pulsed Nd:YAG laser illumination and DNS data of homogeneous isotropic turbulence. The quality of the results is similar for both investigated LEDs with no significant difference between the LED and Nd:YAG illumination. Compared with the DNS, some differences are observed in the power spectra and the probability distributions of the fluctuating velocity and velocity gradients. These differences are attributed to the limited spatial resolution of the experiments and noise introduced during the tomographic reconstruction (i.e. ghost particles). The uncertainty in the velocity measurements associated with the LED illumination is estimated to approximately 0.2–0.3 pixel for both LEDs, which compares favourably with similar tomographic PIV measurements of turbulent flows. In conclusion, the proposed high-power, pulsed LED volume illumination provides accurate and reliable tomographic PIV measurements in water and presents a promising technique for flow diagnostics and velocimetry.