Non-Intrusive Sensing and Feedback Control of Serpentine Inlet Flow Distortion


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Virginia Tech


A technique to infer circumferential total pressure distortion intensity found in serpentine inlet airflow was established using wall-pressure fluctuation measurements. This sensing technique was experimentally developed for aircraft with serpentine inlets in a symmetric, level flight condition. The turbulence carried by the secondary flow field that creates the non-uniform total pressure distribution at the compressor fan-face was discovered to be an excellent indicator of the distortion intensity. A basic understanding of the secondary flow field allowed for strategic sensor placement to provide a distortion estimate with a limited number of sensors. The microphone-based distortion estimator was validated through its strong correlation with experimentally determined circumferential total pressure distortion parameter intensities (DPCP).

This non-intrusive DPCP estimation technique was then used as a DPCP observer in a distortion feedback control system. Lockheed Martin developed the flow control technique used in this control system, which consisted of jet-type vortex generators that injected secondary flow to counter the natural secondary flow inherent to the serpentine inlet. A proportional-integral-derivative (PID) based control system was designed that achieved a requested 66% reduction in DPCP (from a DPCP of 0.023 down to 0.007) in less than 1 second. This control system was also tested for its ability to maintain a DPCP level of 0.007 during a quick ramp-down and ramp-up engine throttling sequence, which served as a measure of system robustness. The control system allowed only a maximum peak DPCP of 0.009 during the engine ramp-up. The successful demonstrations of this automated distortion control system showed great potential for applying this distortion sensing scheme along with Lockheed Martin's flow control technique to military aircraft with serpentine inlets.

A final objective of this research was to broaden the non-intrusive sensing capabilities in the serpentine inlet. It was desired to develop a sensing technique that could identify control efforts that optimized the overall inlet aerodynamic performance with regards to both circumferential distortion intensity DPCP and average pressure recovery PR. This research was conducted with a new serpentine inlet developed by Lockheed Martin having a lower length-to-diameter ratio and two flow control inputs. A cost function based on PR and DPCP was developed to predict the optimal flow control efforts at several Mach numbers. Two wall-mounted microphone signals were developed as non-intrusive inlet performance sensors in response to the two flow control inputs. These two microphone signals then replaced the PR and DPCP metrics in the original cost function, and the new non-intrusive-based cost function yielded extremely similar optimal control efforts.



Inlet Flow Distortion, Wall-Pressure Fluctuations, Adaptive Filtering, Active Flow Control