The University of Southampton

SESA6067 Flow Control

Module Overview

Explores contemporary techniques for the active and passive control of fluids flow. The concepts presented are illustrated using experimental and numerical examples, including those from work conducted at Southampton.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To acquaint students with contemporary techniques for the active and passive control of flow. • The concepts presented will be illustrated by examples, drawn from current research programmes, including ongoing work at Southampton.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The basic concepts of flow control, and possible means of controlling flow, for both laminar and turbulent flow in a variety of situations.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse flow control requirements
  • Identify requirements and propose methods for flow control
  • Synthesise information and ideas for use in the evaluation process
  • Formulate physical systems into mathematical models
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically assess technical literature
  • Have an insight into reducing a complex problem to an abstract description (mathematical model
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Model physical systems using analytical and numerical methods


Introduction (lecture) - Objectives of flow control. - Control mechanisms. Basics (lectures) - Introduction to flow stability. Model problems: flow past a sphere, suction on a flat plate. - Classification of control schemes Passive Control (lectures) - Riblets, compliant surface, addition of polymers, shaping. Separation Control (lectures) Modelling (lectures) - Formation as a state-space problem, frequency domain analysis, objectives/cost functions, low order modelling, (POD, Hankel norm reduction). Application to periodic channel flow. Experimental results. Optimisation and Adjoint methods (lectures) - Basic theory. Application to boundary layer transition control. Experimental techniques for flow control (lectures) - Sensors, actuators, flow physics and applications. Case study: feedback control of channel flow (lectures) - Derivation of Orr-Sommerfeld-Squire equations in state-space form, incorporating boundary actuation and sensing. - Introduction to optimal control via Lagrangian optimisation. - Nonlinear/global vs linear/local stability. - Coding of discrete differential operators and implementation of state-space channel model in code. - Implementation and linear simulation of optimal control of channel flow in code. Review/questions (lectures)

Special Features


Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching methods employed in the delivery of this module include: • Lectures, worked examples. • Two significant case studies The learning activities include: • Individual reading of background material and course texts, plus work on examples and case studies.

Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

M. Gad-el_Hak (2007). Flow Control: Passive, Active and Reactive Flow Management. 

Lecture materials distributed as handouts or on blackboard.. 

Max D. Gunzburger (2003). Perspectives in Flow Control and Optimization. 


Assessment Strategy



MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite FEEG2003 Part II Fluid Mechanics, or SESA2022 Aerodynamics or equivalent .


To study this module, you will need to have studied the following module(s):

FEEG2003Fluid Mechanics
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