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The University of Southampton

Research project: Ab initio hydrodynamic rough surface characterisation with applications

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Turbulent flow over rough surfaces is common in nature and in many technological applications, yet the methods used to predict it are based on a limited experimental database and on correlations that are known to give contradictory predictions.  There is still much to learn about how particular surface features lead to certain drag increases and it is widely accepted that the standard measure of equivalent sand grain roughness is no longer sufficient, since surfaces with the same roughness on this scale have different behaviour in the traditionally rough flow regime.

We are undertaking a research programme based on numerical simulation to study rough surface flow, particularly in the high-speed flight regime.  The plan is to develop high-order implementations of immersed boundary conditions, thus making numerical flow over regular or random rough surfaces feasible and hopefully resolving the scales of roughness that interact with turbulent flow near a wall. 

We will start initially with parametric studies and high resolution studies, making use of the national supercomputer HECToR.  However, with the rapidly decreasing cost of computer power, we believe that the technique we plan to use for this work will become more widely useful and by the end we propose to develop a rough surface characteristic workflow, whereby samples can be scanned, using for example a confocal microscope, surface data interpolated into a boundary condition for numerical simulation and then simulations run for a range of scales (surface scale relative to flow scale) to build a hydrodynamic characterisation map of the surface.

Related research groups

Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanic (AFM)
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