Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Publication Date





Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a vital component in aerospace engineering. A major use of CFD is analyzing the flow properties to determine outputs like aerodynamic lift and drag over an airfoil or compute engine efficiency. It is more practical to conduct a CFD analysis first before doing experimental work as CFD allows for rapid and diverse testing of propeller shapes at a lower cost. CFD also allows for a wider range of testing parameters; for example, an airfoil can be subjected to steady, unsteady, incompressible, or high velocity flows.

Propellers are extensively used in the aircraft industry, especially in smaller vehicles. A potential application for shape optimization is for urban air mobility vehicles. The concept for this idea is that autonomous drones can fly people over cities. It is important to understand how the flow around the propeller affects the flow properties, such as the pressure distribution, velocity distribution, and coefficient of thrust. As the propeller rotates, the air goes over the blades from the leading edge to the trailing edge. If the shape of the propeller blades is properly designed, favorable pressure and velocity distributions are created which in-turn produce the thrust. The purpose of this research is to use CFD to conduct shape optimization on a given propeller blade design to increase aerodynamic efficiency and produce the desired thrust and lift.

A propeller from a given case study will be analyzed. The normal, radial, and swirl velocities, thrust and torque distributions, and total pressure will be calculated from both an isolated propeller study and a wing mounted study. Then, the propellers will undergo a mesh independence study and afterwards subjected to certain boundary and initial conditions for CFD computation. Finally, the converged, optimized solutions will be analyzed and will be compared to the original case study.


CFD, Optimization, Propeller, Airfoil, Urban air mobility


Aerospace Engineering



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Computational Aerodynamics of a Wing Mounted Propeller