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Direct Numerical Simulation of Flow over a Triangular Airfoil Under Martian Conditions

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Martian conditions present various challenges when designing rotorcraft. Specifically, the thin atmosphere and low sound speed require Martian rotor blades to operate in a low-Reynolds-number (1000–10,000) compressible regime, for which conventional airfoils are not designed. Here, we use PyFR to undertake high-order direct numerical simulations (DNS) of flow over a triangular airfoil at a Mach number of 0.15 and Reynolds number of 3000. Initially, spanwise periodic DNS are undertaken. Extending the domain-span-to-chord ratio from 0.3 to 0.6 leads to better agreement with wind-tunnel data at higher angles of attack, when the flow is separated. This is because smaller domain spans artificially suppress three-dimensional breakdown of coherent structures above the suction surface of the airfoil. Subsequently, full-span DNS in a virtual wind tunnel are undertaken, including all wind-tunnel walls. These capture blockage and wall boundary-layer effects, leading to better agreement with wind-tunnel data for all angles of attack compared to spanwise periodic DNS. The results are important in terms of understanding discrepancies between previous spanwise periodic DNS and wind-tunnel data. They also demonstrate the utility of high-order DNS as a tool for accurately resolving flow over triangular airfoils under Martian conditions.


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