Investigation of magnetohydrodynamic plasma actuators for aerodynamic flow control
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This thesis describes the analysis, fabrication and testing of a novel magnetohydrodynamic plasma actuator for aerodynamic flow control, specifically, retreating blade stall. A magnetohydrodynamic plasma actuator is comprised of two parallel rail electrodes embedded chord-wise on the upper surface of an airfoil. A pulse forming network generates a low-voltage, high-current repetitive pulsed arc. Self-induced electromagnetic fields force the pulsed arc along the length of the rail electrodes at high velocities, transferring momentum to the surrounding air, creating a high-velocity pulsed air wall jet. A systematic experimental investigation of the effect of plasma actuators on the surrounding air is conducted in stagnant air conditions to gain an understanding of the physical characteristics. These characteristics include voltage and current measurements, pulsed arc velocity measurements, and high speed video imaging. The results show typical pulsed arc velocities of about 100 m/s can be induced with discharge energies of about 300 J per pulse. Additional experimental studies are conducted to quantify the performance of the pulsed arc for potential use in subsonic flow control applications. To gain an estimate of the momentum transferred from the pulsed arc to the surrounding air the plasma actuator is placed in a subsonic open-circuit wind tunnel at a Reynolds number of 4.5 x 105. The induced velocity of the pulsed wall jet is measured using a Laser Doppler Anemometer. The measurements show that the pulsed arc creates a high-velocity pulsed wall jet that extends 40 mm above the airfoils surface and has an induced velocity of 15 m/s greater than the unaltered air flow over the airfoil, with peak velocities of 32 m/s. The magnetohydrodynamic plasma actuator proved to induce velocities an order of magnitude greater than the velocities attained by current state-of-the-art plasma actuators. Moreover, the RailPAc is found to posses the potential for alleviation of retreating blade stall. Future work will include experiments to gain a detailed understanding of the improvements to the static stall angle, the optimal actuator geometry, excitation duty cycle, magnetic field augmentation, and behavior of the plasma armature at high Mach/Reynolds numbers. Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) will be utilized to improve the induced flow velocity measurements acquired with the LDA.