Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Wade W Huebsch

Committee Co-Chair

John M Kuhlman

Committee Member

Gregory J Thompson


There have been several advancements in the aerospace industry in areas of design such as aerodynamics, designs, controls and propulsion; all aimed at one common goal i.e. increasing efficiency --range and scope of operation with lesser fuel consumption. Several methods of flow control have been tried. Some were successful, some failed and many were termed as impractical. The low Reynolds number regime of 104 - 105 is a very interesting range. Flow physics in this range are quite different than those of higher Reynolds number range. Mid and high altitude UAV's, MAV's, sailplanes, jet engine fan blades, inboard helicopter rotor blades and wind turbine rotors are some of the aerodynamic applications that fall in this range. The current study deals with using dynamic roughness as a means of flow control over a NACA 0012 airfoil at low Reynolds numbers. Dynamic 3-D surface roughness elements on an airfoil placed near the leading edge aim at increasing the efficiency by suppressing the effects of leading edge separation like leading edge stall by delaying or totally eliminating flow separation. A numerical study of the above method has been carried out by means of a Large Eddy Simulation, a mathematical model for turbulence in Computational Fluid Dynamics, owing to the highly unsteady nature of the flow. A user defined function has been developed for the 3-D dynamic roughness element motion. Results from simulations have been compared to those from experimental PIV data. Large eddy simulations have relatively well captured the leading edge stall. For the clean cases, i.e. with the DR not actuated, the LES was able to reproduce experimental results in a reasonable fashion. However DR simulation results show that it fails to reattach the flow and suppress flow separation compared to experiments. Several novel techniques of grid design and hump creation are introduced through this study.