Flow, Turbulence and Combustion

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 195–216 | Cite as

Effect of Local DBD Plasma Actuation on Transition in a Laminar Separation Bubble



This work examines the effect of local active flow control on stability and transition in a laminar separation bubble. Experiments are performed in a wind tunnel facility on a NACA 0012 airfoil at a chord Reynolds number of 130 000 and an angle of attack of 2 degrees. Controlled disturbances are introduced upstream of a laminar separation bubble forming on the suction side of the airfoil using a surface-mounted Dielectric Barrier Discharge plasma actuator. Time-resolved two-component Particle Image Velocimetry is used to characterise the flow field. The effect of frequency and amplitude of plasma excitation on flow development is examined. The introduction of artificial harmonic disturbances leads to significant changes in separation bubble topology and the characteristics of coherent structures formed in the aft portion of the bubble. The development of the bubble demonstrates strong dependence on the actuation frequency and amplitude, revealing the dominant role of incoming disturbances in the transition scenario. Statistical, topological and linear stability theory analysis demonstrate that significant mean flow deformation produced by controlled disturbances leads to notable changes in stability characteristics compared to those in the unforced baseline case. The findings provide a new outlook on the role of controlled disturbances in separated shear layer transition and instruct the development of effective flow control strategies.


Laminar separation bubble Airfoil Boundary layer separation Separated shear layer Laminar-to-turbulent transition DBD plasma actuator Flow control 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC Discovery Grant #112539) and TU Delft for funding this work.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics EngineeringUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Aerospace EngineeringDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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