Date of Award

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Department

Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

David J. Sypeck, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Eric Perrell, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

J.Gordon Leishman, Ph.D.

Abstract

A miniature subsonic open return wind tunnel was designed and fabricated to measure drag on small test models at low Reynolds numbers. The wind tunnel featured a sensitive strain gauge type load cell. The average drag coefficient of sphere and cube test models were used to validate the miniature wind tunnel, and the values obtained were consistent with published results over the range of Reynolds numbers tested. These initial results gave confidence that the tunnel could be used to study the effects of surface finish on the drag of various models. Several fabrics with differing ribbed surface structures, including a Fastskin FSI swimsuit fabric, were adhered to NACA 0012 wing models to access their effectiveness in reducing drag at zero incidence. A similar wing model with an aircraft aluminum alloy skin with boundary layer trip strip served as a baseline for drag comparisons. The Fastskin FSI swimsuit fabric and those with similar rib patterns tended to reduce drag below that of the baseline and the trend was maintained with increasing Reynolds number. Possible future research and drag reduction applications are also discussed.

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