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Particle image velocimetry in aerodynamics: Technology and applications in wind tunnels

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Particle image velocimetry (PIV) is increasingly used for aerodynamic research and development. The PIV technique allows the recording of a complete flow velocity field in a plane of the flow within a few microseconds. Thus, it provides information about unsteady flow fields, which is difficult to obtain with other experimental techniques. The short acquisition time and fast availability of data reduce the operational time, and hence cost, in large scale test facilities. Technical progress made in the last years allowed DLR to develop a reliable, modular PIV system for use in industrial wind tunnels. The features of this system are summarized and results of recent PIV applications are presented.

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Correspondence to J. Kompenhans.

Additional information

Jürgen Kompenhans: He received his doctor’s degree in physics from the University of Göttingen in 1976. Since 1977 he is working for DLR as scientist. Starting with experimental work on problems of aeroacoustics he is now developing and applying non-intrusive optical measuring techniques for aerodynamic research in wind tunnels (mainly Particle Image Velocimetry). Since 1985 the PIV-group, guided by J. Kompenhans, has developed a mobile PIV system, which can be operated under the rough environmental conditions of a large wind tunnel. This system has been successfully applied in different flow facilities as well to low speed as to high speed flows. He is co-ordinator and task manager of different European projects in aerodynamics utilizing the PIV technique.

Markus Raffel: He received his degree in mechanical engineering in 1990 from the Technical University of Karlsruhe and his doctorate in 1993 from the University of Hannover, Germany. He started working on particle image velocimetry at DLR Göttingen in 1991 with emphasis on the development of PIV recording techniques in high-speed flows. In this process he applied the method to a number of aerodynamic problems mainly in the context of rotorcraft investigations.

Lutz Dieterle: He studied mineral processing at the Technical University of Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany, and made his Diploma in mining December 1992. He worked first as a DECHEMA-scholar and afterwards as a scientific employee at theInstitut für Mechanische Verfahrenstechnik und Umweltverfahrenstechnik of the TU Clausthal. November 1996 he got his Ph.D in mechanical process engineering with a thesis on the development of a particle image velocimetry (PIV) system for microscopic turbulent flows. Since March 1997 he has worked at theInstitut für Strömungsmechanik of the DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; German Aerospace Center) in Göttingen, Germany. He is responsible for the planning and implementation of PIV measurements in industrial wind tunnels.

Tim Dewhirst: He gained his B.Sc. in Physics from Edinburgh University in1994 and his Ph.D in Physics in 1998, also from Edinburgh University. He has been working in the field of Particle Image Velocimetry for the past eight years, and during this time worked also for German Aerospace Center as part of the Institute of Fluid Mechanics. His main interests lie in applications of Fourier optics, image processing techniques and digital imaging technologies.

A. F. Heinrich Vollmers: He received his Diploma in 1972 from Ernst-Albrecht-University in Kiel working on particle detectors for a space probe. Since then he has worked with German Aerospace Center in Göttingen in several fields: turbulence modeling, data visualization, data analysis, particle image velocimetry.

Klaus Ehrenfried: He studied physics at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Diploma in physics February 1988. Ph.D. thesis at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Ph.D degree in physics June 1991. Title of the Ph.D thesis: Numerical investigation of vortex-airfoil interactions in transonic flows. From 1991 to 1993 researcher at the Max-Planck-Institut für Strömungsforschung in Göttingen. Worked in the field of numerical simulations of transonic flows with vortices. From 1993 to 1998 researcher at theInstitut für Strömungsmechanik of the DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; German Aerospace Center). Numerical and experimental work in the field of sound generation in flows with vortices. Since 1998 scientific assistant at the Technical University of Berlin, Germany. Teaching and research in the field of aeroacoustics.

Christian Willert: He received his BS degree in Applied Science from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) in 1987. Subsequent graduate work in experimental fluid mechanics at UCSD lead to the development of several nonintrusive measurement techniques for application in water (particle tracing, 3-D particle tracking, digital PIV). After receiving his Ph.D in Engineering Sciences in 1992, he assumed post-doctoral positions first at the Institute for Nonlinear Science (INLS) at UCSD, then at the Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In April 1994 he joined DLR Göttingen’s measurement sciences group as part of an exchange program between Caltech and DLR (i.e. Center for Quantitative Visualization, CQV). There he continued to work in the development and application of PIV techniques with special emphasis on wind tunnel applications. Since 1997 he is developing and applying Doppler global velocimetry at DLR Cologne.

Kurt Pengel received his degree in meteorology in 1982 from the University of Hannover, Germany. He started working at the German-Dutch Windtunnel in 1986. There, he is responsible for the implementation of new measuring techniques. His PIV concerns began in 1995. Since that time he applied PIV in a number of wind tunnel projects and published his experiences in several papers.

Christian Joachim Kähler: He received his Diploma degree in Physics in 1997 from the Technical University of Clausthal and he is now registered at the Georg-August-University Göttingen working on turbulence research. In addition he is employed at the German Aerospace Center working on the development of PIV based techniques for fundamental flow investigations.

Andreas Schröder: He studied physics at the University of Göttingen, Germany. Diploma in physics May 1996. Title of Diploma:Untersuchung der Strukturen des laminaren Zylindernachlaufs mit Hilfe der Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) Meßtechnik (Investigations of the structures in the laminar wake behind a cylinder utilizing PIV). Since 1996 researcher at theInstitut für Strömungsmechanik of the DLR (German Aerospace Center) in Göttingen. Experimental work in the field of transition of boundary layers by means of stereoscopic PIV.

Olaf Ronneberger: He received his diploma in physics in 1998 from the Institute of nonlinear Dynamics, University of Göttingen. Before and during his study he worked as programmer and scientist in the PIV-group around Dr. Kompenhans in the DLR. Since the first successful application of Dual-Plane PIV together with Dr. Raffel during an exchange at the California Institute for Technologies 1994 his research interest were the improvement of the PIV technique. In 1998 he started his thesis at the Institute for Computer Science, Chair of Pattern Recognition and Image Processing, University of Freiburg. In a collaboration with the German Weather Service and the Swiss Meteorological Institute he works on automated recognition of 3D volume images from airborne pollen grains (http://come.to/pollen_recognition). His research interests include 2D/3D image processing, grey scale invariants and pattern recognition.

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Kompenhans, J., Raffel, M., Dieterle, L. et al. Particle image velocimetry in aerodynamics: Technology and applications in wind tunnels. J Vis 2, 229–244 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03181440

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  • particle image velocimetry
  • PIV
  • industrial wind tunnels
  • aerodynamics
  • unsteady flow fields