Influence of free-stream turbulence intensity on static and dynamic stall of a NACA 0018 aerofoil

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In many engineering applications, aerofoils experience elevated free-stream turbulence levels. The present work experimentally investigates the effect of free-stream turbulence on the aerodynamic characteristics of a sinusoidally pitching NACA 0018 aerofoil at the transitional Reynolds number of 2.8×105. Wind tunnel tests are conducted in quasi-static and dynamic conditions at different turbulence intensities between 0.3% and 8.2%, considering reduced frequencies up to 0.1. The dynamic experiments investigate multiple angle-of-attack ranges in order to quantify the influence of free-stream turbulence in the attached-flow regime, in the stalled regime, and in-and-out of stall. The study demonstrates that high free-stream turbulence drastically changes the flow physics over the aerofoil for both static and dynamic conditions, producing large deviations in the lift and moment coefficients. The quasi-static experiment performed at low free-stream turbulence features a large stall hysteresis linked to the breakdown of the leading-edge laminar separation bubble, whereas static hysteresis is not present at higher turbulence levels. Moreover, dynamic experiments at high angles of attack show a strong dependency on the incoming turbulence intensity, which is found to delay flow separation during the upstroke and enhance reattachment during the downstroke. The work also reveals the intrinsic difficulty of predicting the dynamic stall behaviour under different turbulence conditions, and gives insight into why the existing empirical dynamic stall models are unlikely to succeed in accurately predicting the aerodynamic loads across different onset turbulence intensities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105270
JournalJournal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the FWO, Belgium fellowship with project number 1S90123N. The financial support from the Research Council of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium under grant number OZR3821 and SRP60 is gratefully acknowledged.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2022 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Unsteady aerodynamics
  • Pitching aerofoil
  • Dynamic stall
  • Free-stream turbulence
  • Wind tunnel testing


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