Flow Control

Why Flow Control?

Aerodynamic flow control is the practice of manipulating a flow field through some form of actuation or interaction to produce a desired change in the flow behavior. This process commonly involves forced changes to flow structures, mixing behavior, or momentum injection in the flow field to produce more desirable performance characteristics from an aerodynamic geometry. Historically, flow control has been used to delay laminar-turbulent transition, postpone boundary-layer separation, enhance lift and/or reduce drag of an aerodynamic body, augment turbulent mixing, and suppress noise. Aerodynamic flow control can be introduced passively through the addition or modification of surface features, such as vortex generator vanes, dimpled surface textures, or serrated trailing-edge geometries. Flow control can also be performed actively, where some actuation device is utilized to modify the flow field. Examples of common actuation devices include pneumatic systems (surface suction and blowing), plasma actuation, and electromagnetic or piezoelectric driven cavities.

Flow control can be utilized to enable substantial improvements in aerodynamic performance, making it an appealing technology for future air vehicle development. In commercial transport systems, active flow control can be used to achieve greater lift at lower speeds or greater control authority provided by control surfaces. These factors can lead to substantial reductions in the weight and complexity of vehicle systems, which subsequently results in improved vehicle fuel efficiency. In military aircraft, the performance enhancements offered by aerodynamic flow control open a new realm of operational capabilities, including shorter takeoff field requirements and increased vehicle agility.

What is going on in flow control research at Illinois?

Our faculty expertise in flow control research includes use of both state-of-the-art experimental methods and high-fidelity computational simulations. Active research at Illinois cover a wide range of programs in flow control research, including the development of novel flow control actuators, use of active flow control for ultra-high lift airfoil systems, reduction of supersonic base drag on bluff bodies, and optimization of actuator placement to mitigate separation of internal flows. Recent active flow control research programs have been supported by NASA, AFOSR, ARO, and ONR.

Who are the faculty members in the area?

Associate Professor
Professor Emeritus
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor

What are the classes in this area?

  • AE 410: Computational Aerodynamics
  • AE 412/ME 411: Viscous Flow and Heat Transfer
  • AE 416: Applied Aerodynamics
  • AE 433: Aerospace Propulsion
  • AE 510/ME 510: Advanced Gas Dynamics
  • AE 514: Boundary Layer Theory
  • AE 515: Wing Theory
  • AE 538: Combustion Fundamentals
  • AE 598 UA: Unsteady Aerodynamics
  • TAM 532: Viscous Flow
  • TAM 536: Instability and Transition
  • TAM 538: Turbulence

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The Department of Aerospace Engineering offers numerous options for advanced degrees,  including: 5-year Bachelor/Master of Science; Master of Science; Online Master of Science - Non-thesis; Master of Engineering in Aerospace Systems; Online MEng in Aerospace Systems; and Doctorate.

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