Research Topic

Numerical Simulation of Aerodynamic Plasma Actuator Effects

Figure 1: Stages of Tollmien-Schlichting wave transition. 1: Laminar flow, 2: Small disturbances, 3: Oblique wavelike disturbances, 4: The structures are not periodic anymore, 5: Periodic behavior found on spanwise direction and 6: Turbulent flow.

The shear stress present on the boundary layer surrounding the airplane wing is responsible for the drag friction, causing considerable energy consumption, and increasing the flight costs. A turbulent boundary layer leads to a higher shear stress when compared to a laminar one. In aircraft industry (Figure 1), it is extremely desired to control the transition area, avoiding the kinematic energy dissipation. The whole transition process is originated when some small disturbance in the laminar flow grows and may lead to a turbulent flow. The present work concentrate its efforts on the active flow control of Tollmien-Schlichting wave transition, where exponential growing wavelike disturbances lead to transition (Figure 1).

Fig. 2: Numerical flow simulation of the plasma actuator using the calibration model.

Plasma Actuators and Numerical Simulations

Plasma actuators are made of two electrodes separated by an insulating film. A high voltage is then applied and the charges collide with the air transferring momentum to the neutral molecules. A numerical flow simulation of the plasma actuator disturbing a laminar boundary layer can be found in Figure 2. On this simulation a calibration model was used to numerically represent the actuator.  To perform simulations, it is used the in-house code FASTEST: parallel finite-volume solver for the Navier-Stokes equations that uses multigrid, implicit time discretization, block-structured grids, and free topology. Two mathematical models for plasma actuators are considered: the Empirical Calibration Model, and the  Fitting Function Model.

Key Research Area

Computer Fluids Dynamics, Active Flow Control, Plasma Actuators


Debora Gleice Vieira


Dolivostraße 15

D-64293 Darmstadt



+49 6151 16 - 24401 or 24402


+49 6151 16 - 24404




vieira (at) gsc.tu...

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