Active Flow Control of a Boundary Layer Ingesting Serpentine Diffuser

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Virginia Tech

The use of serpentine boundary layer ingesting (BLI) diffusers offers a significant benefit to the performance of Blended Wing Body aircraft. However, the inherent diffuser geometry combined with a thick ingested boundary layer creates strong secondary flows that lead to severe flow distortion at the engine face, increasing the possibility of engine surge. This study investigated the use of enabling active flow control methods to reduce engine-face distortion.

An ejector-pump based system of fluidic actuators was used to directly manage the diffuser secondary flows. This system was modeled computationally using a boundary condition jet modeling method, and tested in an ejector-driven wind tunnel facility. This facility is capable of simulating the high-altitude, high subsonic Mach number conditions representative of BWB cruise conditions, specifically a cruise Mach number of 0.85 at an altitude of 39,000 ft.

The tunnel test section used for this experiment was designed, built, and tested as a validation tool for the computational methods. This process resulted in the creation of a system capable of efficiently investigating and testing the fundamental mechanisms of flow control in BLI serpentine diffusers at a minimum of time and expense.

Results of the computational and wind tunnel analysis confirmed the large potential benefit of adopting fluidic actuators to control flow distortion in serpentine BLI inlets. Computational analysis showed a maximum 71% reduction in flow distortion at the engine face through the use of the Pyramid 1 ejector scheme, and a 68% reduction using the Circumferential ejector scheme. However, the flow control systems were also found to have a significant impact on flow swirl. The Pyramid 1 ejector scheme was found to increase AIP flow swirl by 64%, while the Circumferential ejector scheme reduced flow swirl by 30%. Computational analyses showed that this difference was the result of jet interaction. By keeping the jet flows separate and distinct, the diffuser secondary flows could be more efficiently managed. For this reason, the most practically effective flow control scheme was the Circumferential ejector scheme.

Experimental results showed that the computational analysis slightly over-predicted flow distortion. However, the trends are accurately predicted despite slight variances in freestream Mach number between runs and a slightly lower tested altitude.

boundary layer ingestion, swirl, BLI, AFC, flow control, serpentine, aerodynamics, active, diffuser, inlet, duct, distortion