Effect of Chordwise Struts and Misaligned Flow on the Aerodynamic Performance of a Leading-Edge Inflatable Wing

Published in:
, TU Delft
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Published on:
February 16th, 2022
Last modified on May 23rd, 2023 at 15:50

Leading-edge inflatable (LEI) kites use a pressurized tubular frame to structurally support a single skin membrane canopy. The presence of the tubes on the pressure side of the wing leads to characteristic flow phenomena for this type of kite. In this paper, we present steady-state Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) simulations for a LEI wing for airborne wind energy applications. Expanding on previous work where only the leading-edge tube was considered, eight additional strut tubes that support the wing canopy are now included. The shape of the wing is considered to be constant. The influence of the strut tubes on the aerodynamic performance of the wing and the local flow field is assessed, considering flow configurations with and without side-slip. The simulations show that the aerodynamic performance of the wing decreases with increasing side-slip component of the inflow. On the other hand, the chordwise struts have little influence on the integral lift and drag of the wing, irrespective of the side-slip component. The overall flow characteristics are in good agreement with previous studies. In particular, it is confirmed that at a low Reynolds number of Re=105 , a laminar separation bubble exists on the suction side of this hypothetical rigid wing shape with perfectly smooth surface. The destruction of this bubble at low angles of attack impacts negatively on the aerodynamic performance.

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