On the figure of merit and streamwise flow of a propulsive rotor with synthetic jets

Victor Maldonado, Nicolas Peralta, Serdar Gorumlu, Wolduamlak Ayele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Increasing the figure of merit of propulsive rotors for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles is critical to improving the hover efficiency and flight endurance of rotorcraft. In this paper, a new flow control scheme is proposed where 60 synthetic jet actuators are utilized on a large-scale propulsive rotor and the jets' velocity is increased from the blade root to the blade tip in order maintain constant levels of momentum coefficient per blade module. The three-bladed rotor measures 2.58 m in diameter and contains a NACA 0012 airfoil with zero blade twist distribution. The rotor was tested at speeds of 250, 500, 750 and 1,000 revolutions per minute (RPM) and blade pitch angles of 2, 5, and 8 degrees. Rotor thrust and power were measured using a high-capacity load cell and current sensor, and the streamwise flow was measured using phased-locked laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV) techniques at two measurement planes near the blade root and near the blade tip along the suction surface of the airfoil. Two flow control schemes were tested and compared; the new constant momentum coefficient (constant Cμ) and non-constant Cμ where the synthetic jet velocity is held constant throughout the rotor blade. When all 20 synthetic jets per blade are activated, it was found that constant Cμ improves low-speed rotor performance in terms of figure of merit, FM and thrust coefficient, CT at 250 RPM, while non-constant Cμ is marginally superior at higher rotor speeds. When both flow control schemes are applied for just the blade root module, an increase in performance compared to the baseline is observed at rotor speeds of 750 and 1000 RPM, however different values of FM and CT are achieved for each scheme. Near the blade tip the boundary layers undergo transition to turbulent flow combined with an increasing degree of adverse pressure gradient with rotor speed and blade pitch angle. Under these conditions where the normalized streamwise velocity profiles show significant velocity deficit in the near-wall flow, synthetic jets provide some momentum to delay separation as quantified by the boundary layer shape factor.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106712
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Aerodynamics
  • Figure of merit
  • LDV measurements
  • Propulsive rotor
  • Synthetic jets


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