High-lift airfoil trailing edge separation control using a single dielectric barrier discharge plasma actuator

Jesse Little, Munetake Nishihara, Igor Adamovich, Mo Samimy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


Control of flow separation from the deflected flap of a high-lift airfoil up to Reynolds numbers of 240,000 (15 m/s) is explored using a single dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma actuator near the flap shoulder. Results show that the plasma discharge can increase or reduce the size of the time-averaged separated region over the flap depending on the frequency of actuation. High-frequency actuation, referred to here as quasi-steady forcing, slightly delays separation while lengthening and flattening the separated region without drastically increasing the measured lift. The actuator is found to be most effective for increasing lift when operated in an unsteady fashion at the natural oscillation frequency of the trailing edge flow field. Results indicate that the primary control mechanism in this configuration is an enhancement of the natural vortex shedding that promotes further momentum transfer between the freestream and separated region. Based on these results, different modulation waveforms for creating unsteady DBD plasma-induced flows are investigated in an effort to improve control authority. Subsequent measurements show that modulation using duty cycles of 50-70% generates stronger velocity perturbations than sinusoidal modulation in quiescent conditions at the expense of an increased power requirement. Investigation of these modulation waveforms for trailing edge separation control similarly shows that additional increases in lift can be obtained. The dependence of these results on the actuator carrier and modulation frequencies is discussed in detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-537
Number of pages17
JournalExperiments in Fluids
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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