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An experimental investigation on the surface water transport process over an airfoil by using a digital image projection technique

Abstract

In the present study, an experimental investigation was conducted to characterize the transient behavior of the surface water film and rivulet flows driven by boundary layer airflows over a NACA0012 airfoil in order to elucidate underlying physics of the important micro-physical processes pertinent to aircraft icing phenomena. A digital image projection (DIP) technique was developed to quantitatively measure the film thickness distribution of the surface water film/rivulet flows over the airfoil at different test conditions. The time-resolved DIP measurements reveal that micro-sized water droplets carried by the oncoming airflow impinged onto the airfoil surface, mainly in the region near the airfoil leading edge. After impingement, the water droplets formed thin water film that runs back over the airfoil surface, driven by the boundary layer airflow. As the water film advanced downstream, the contact line was found to bugle locally and developed into isolated water rivulets further downstream. The front lobes of the rivulets quickly advanced along the airfoil and then shed from the airfoil trailing edge, resulting in isolated water transport channels over the airfoil surface. The water channels were responsible for transporting the water mass impinging at the airfoil leading edge. Additionally, the transition location of the surface water transport process from film flows to rivulet flows was found to occur further upstream with increasing velocity of the oncoming airflow. The thickness of the water film/rivulet flows was found to increase monotonically with the increasing distance away from the airfoil leading edge. The runback velocity of the water rivulets was found to increase rapidly with the increasing airflow velocity, while the rivulet width and the gap between the neighboring rivulets decreased as the airflow velocity increased.

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Acknowledgments

The research work is partially supported by National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) Grant Number NNX12AC21A with Mr. Mark Potapczuk as the technical officer and Iowa Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) Base Program for Aircraft Icing Studies with Dr. Charisse Buising as the director. The support of National Science Foundation (NSF) under award numbers of CBET-1064196 and CBET-1435590 is also gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Hui Hu.

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Zhang, K., Wei, T. & Hu, H. An experimental investigation on the surface water transport process over an airfoil by using a digital image projection technique. Exp Fluids 56, 173 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00348-015-2046-z

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Keywords

  • Water Film
  • Airfoil Surface
  • NACA0012 Airfoil
  • Fluorescence Imaging Technique
  • Rivulet Flow