Piezoceramic composite actuators for flow control in low Reynolds number airflow

Onur Bilgen, Carlos De Marqui, Kevin B. Kochersberger, Daniel J. Inman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The research presented here employs solid-state actuators for flow separation delay or for forced attachment of separated flow seen in airfoils at low Reynolds numbers. To reduce separation, periodic excitation to the flow around the leading edge of the airfoil is induced by Macro-Fiber Composite actuated clamped-free unimorph benders. An electromechanical model of the unimorph is briefly presented and parametric study is conducted to aid the design of a unimorph to output high deformation at a desired frequency. The optimum frequency and amplitude for lift improvement at post-stall angles are identified experimentally. Along with aerodynamic force and structural displacement measurements, helium bubble flow visualization is used to verify existing separated flow, and the attached flow induced by flow control. The lift enhancement induced by several flow control techniques is compared. A symmetric and non-uniform (3D) flow excitation results in the maximum lift enhancement at post-stall region at the lowest power consumption level. A maximum lift coefficient increase of 27.5% (in the post-stall region) is achieved at 125 Hz periodic excitation, with the 3D symmetric actuation mode at 5 m/s and the reduced frequency of 3.78. Cl, max is increased 7.6% from the baseline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1201-1212
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures
Issue number12
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • MFC
  • NACA 0010 airfoil
  • flow control
  • low Reynolds number
  • unimorph actuator


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