Performance variations of leading-edge tubercles for distinct airfoil profiles

Kristy Hansen, Richard Kelso, Bassam Dally

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    350 Citations (Scopus)


    An experimental investigation has been undertaken to determine the influence of sinusoidal leading-edge protrusions on the performance of two NACA airfoils with different aerodynamic characteristics. Force measurements on full-span airfoils with various combinations of tubercle amplitude and wavelength reveal that when compared to the unmodified equivalent, tubercles are more beneficial for the NACA 65-021 airfoil than the NACA 0021 airfoil. It was also found that for both airfoil profiles, reducing the tubercle amplitude leads to a higher maximum lift coefficient and larger stall angle. In the poststall regime, however, the performance with largeramplitude tubercles is more favorable. Reducing the wavelength leads to improvements in all aspects of lift performance, including maximum lift coefficient, stall angle, and poststall characteristics. Nevertheless, there is a certain point at which further reduction in wavelength has a negative impact on performance. The results also suggest that tubercles act in a manner similar to conventional vortex generators.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)185-194
    Number of pages10
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


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