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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

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)

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

Lecture materials distributed as handouts or on blackboard.. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: FEEG2003 OR SESA2022

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