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Drag reduction on a transonic airfoil

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 May 2022

Maurizio Quadrio*
Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Aerospaziali, Politecnico di Milano, via La Masa 34, 20156 Milan, Italy
Alessandro Chiarini
Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Aerospaziali, Politecnico di Milano, via La Masa 34, 20156 Milan, Italy
Jacopo Banchetti
Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Aerospaziali, Politecnico di Milano, via La Masa 34, 20156 Milan, Italy
Davide Gatti
Institute for Fluid Mechanics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Kaiserstr. 10, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
Antonio Memmolo
High Performance Computing Department, CINECA Interuniversity Consortium, 40033 Bologna, Italy
Sergio Pirozzoli
Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Aerospaziale, La Sapienza Università di Roma, Via Eudossiana, 00184 Rome, Italy
Email address for correspondence:


Flow control for turbulent skin-friction drag reduction is applied to a transonic airfoil to improve its aerodynamic performance. The study is based on direct numerical simulations (with up to 1.8 billion cells) of the compressible turbulent flow around a supercritical airfoil, at Reynolds and Mach numbers of $Re_\infty = 3 \times 10^{5}$ and $M_\infty =0.7$. Control via spanwise forcing is applied over a fraction of the suction side of the airfoil. Besides locally reducing friction, the control modifies the shock wave and significantly improves the aerodynamic efficiency of the airfoil by increasing lift and decreasing drag. Hence, the airfoil can achieve the required lift at a lower angle of attack and with a lower drag. Estimates at the aircraft level indicate that substantial savings are possible; when control is active, its energy cost becomes negligible thanks to the small application area. We suggest that skin-friction drag reduction should be considered not only as a goal, but also as a tool to improve the global aerodynamics of complex flows.

JFM Rapids
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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