Aerodynamic response of an airfoil section undergoing pitch motion and trailing edge flap deflection: a comparison of simulation methods

Leonardo Bergami, Vasilis A. Riziotis, Mac Gaunaa

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The study presents and compares aerodynamic simulations for an airfoil section with an adaptive trailing edge flap, which deflects following a smooth deformation shape. The simulations are carried out with three substantially different methods: a Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes solver, a viscous–inviscid interaction method and an engineering dynamic stall model suitable for implementation in aeroelastic codes based on blade element momentum theory. The aerodynamic integral forces and pitching moment coefficients are first determined in steady conditions, at angles of attack spanning from attached flow to separated conditions and accounting for the effects of flap deflection; the steady results from the Navier–Stokes solver and the viscous–inviscid interaction method are used as input data for the simpler dynamic stall model. The paper characterizes then the dynamics of the unsteady forces and moments generated by the airfoil undergoing harmonic pitching motions and harmonic flap deflections. The unsteady aerodynamic coefficients exhibit significant variations over the corresponding steady-state values. The dynamic characteristics of the unsteady response are predicted with an excellent agreement among the investigated methods at attached flow conditions, both for airfoil pitching and flap deflection. At high angles of attack, where flow separation is encountered, the methods still depict similar overall dynamics, but larger discrepancies are reported, especially for the simpler engineering method. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWind Energy
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1273–1290
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Adaptive trailing edge flap
  • Unsteady aerodynamic modeling
  • Numerical methods for smart rotors

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