A surface flow sensor is needed if turbulent drag force is to be measured over a vehicle, such as a car, a ship, and an airplane. In case of automobile industry, there are no automobile manufacturers which measure surface flow velocity over a car for wind tunnel testing. Instead, they rely on particle image velocimetry (PIV), pressure sensitive paint (PSP), laser Doppler anemometry (LDA), pitot tubes, and tufts to get information regarding the turbulent drag force. Surface flow sensors have not devised yet.

This study aims at developing a surface flow sensor for measuring turbulent drag force over a rigid body in a wind tunnel. Two sensing schemes were designed for the fiber-optic distributed sensor and the thermal mass flow sensor. These concepts are introduced in this paper. As the first attempt, a thermal mass flow sensor has been fabricated. It was flush-mounted on the surface of a test section in the wind tunnel to measure the surface flow velocity. The thermal mass flow sensor was operated by either constant current or constant resistance modes. Resistance ratio was changed as the electric current was increased by the constant current mode, while power ratio was saturated as the resistance was increased by the constant resistance mode. Either the resistance ratio or the power ratio was changed with the flow velocity measured by a Pitot tube, located at the center of test section.

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