Experiments on tip vortices interacting with downstream wings

Chen Chen, Zhijin Wang, Ismet Gursul

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16 Citations (SciVal)


The interaction of meandering tip vortices shed from a leading wing with a downstream wing was investigated experimentally in a water tunnel using flow visualization, particle image velocimetry measurements, and volumetric velocity measurements. Counter-rotating upstream vortices may exhibit sudden variations of the vortex core location when the wing-tip separation is within approximately twice the vortex core radius. This is caused by the formation of vortex dipoles near the wing tip. In contrast, co-rotating upstream vortices do not exhibit such sensitivity. Large spanwise displacement of the trajectory due to the image vortex is possible when the incident vortex is further inboard. For both co-rotating and counter-rotating vortices, as long as there is no direct impingement upon the wing, there is a little change in the structure of the time-averaged vortex past the wing, even though the tip vortex shed from the downstream wing may be substantially weakened or strengthened. In the absence of the downstream wing, as well as for weak interactions, the most energetic unsteady modes represent the first helical mode |m| = 1, which is estimated from the three-dimensional Proper Orthogonal Decomposition modes and has a very large wavelength, on the order of 10 2 times the vortex core radius, λ/a = O(10 2). Instantaneous vorticity measurements as well as flow visualization suggest the existence of a smaller wavelength, λ/a = 5–6, which is not among the most energetic modes. These two-orders of magnitude different wavelengths are in agreement with the previous measurements of tip vortices and also exhibit qualitative agreement with the transient energy growth analysis. The very long wavelength mode in the upstream vortex may persist during the interaction, and reveal coupling with the trailing vortex as well as increased meandering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number82
JournalExperiments in Fluids
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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