Date of Award

Winter 1990

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Director

Gregory V. Selby

Committee Member

Robert L. Ash

Committee Member

Colin Britcher

Committee Member

Oktay Baysal

Committee Member

Woodrow Whitlow


Some configurations of blunt trailing-edge airfoils are known to have a lower pressure drag compared to sharp trailing-edge airfoils. However, this advantage in addition to the structural advantage of a thick trailing-edge airfoil is offset by its high base drag. At subsonic velocities, this is attributed to the low-pressure base flow dominated by a Karman vortex street. In the limiting case, the steady separated flow over a rearward-facing step is attained if the periodically shed vortices from a blunt trailing-edge are suppressed by the addition of a base splitter-plate.

Experimental studies in the Old Dominion University low-speed closed-circuit wind tunnel were conducted to examine the effect of several passive flow-control devices such as Wheeler doublets and wishbone vortex generators, longitudinal surface grooves, base cavities and serrations on the characteristics of two- and three-dimensional base flows. Flow over flat-plate airfoil and rearward-facing step models was studied in the turbulent incompressible subsonic flow regime. Models with trailing-edge and step-sweep angles of 0°, 30°, and 45° with respect to the crossflow direction were considered. Constant-temperature hot-wire anemometry, infrared surface thermography, and pitot-static probes were used to conduct flow measurements. Parameters measured included vortex shedding frequency, convective heat-transfer rates, base pressure, and flow reattachment distance. Surveys of mean velocity profiles in the wake were also conducted.

Results have shown that most of the flow control devices tested increased the base pressure of the 2-D and 3-D flat-plate airfoils. Use of longitudinal surface grooves resulted in shorter flow reattachment distances and higher convective heat transfer rates downstream of the 2-D rearward-facing steps.