The flow around a surface-mounted square prism of finite height was investigated experimentally using a low-speed wind tunnel. Of interest were the effects of aspect ratio and incidence angle on the mean aerodynamic forces and vortex shedding. Compared to the case of the “infinite” (or two-dimensional) square prism, the flow around the finite square prism has not been extensively studied. The experiments were conducted at a Reynolds number of Re = 7.2 × 104 for aspect ratios of AR = 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 and incidence angles of α = 0°, 15°, 30° and 45°. The thickness of the boundary layer on the ground plane relative to the side length was δ/D = 1.5. Measurements of the vortex shedding frequency were made with a single-component hot-wire probe in the wake, and measurements of the mean drag and lift forces were obtained with a force balance.

For all aspect ratios and incidence angles, the Strouhal number and the mean drag coefficient were lower than those of an infinite prism, while the mean lift coefficient was of nearly similar magnitude. As the aspect ratio was increased from AR = 3 to 11, the force coefficients and Strouhal number slowly approached the infinite-square-prism data. The behaviours of the mean drag coefficient and Strouhal number with incidence angle were less sensitive compared to the case of the infinite square prism, although a minimum mean drag coefficient, minimum (most negative) mean lift coefficient, and maximum Strouhal number were found at α = 15°. The reduced sensitivity to incidence angle is attributed to the complex three-dimensional flow over the free end of the prism and the downwash flow that enters the near wake. The behaviour of the force coefficients and Strouhal number for the prism of AR = 3 was distinct from the other prisms (with lower values of drag coefficient and lift coefficient magnitude, and a different Strouhal number trend), suggesting the critical aspect ratio was between AR = 5 and AR = 3 in these experiments. In the wall-normal direction, the power spectra for AR = 11 and 9 tended to have weaker and/or more broad-banded vortex shedding peaks near the ground plane and near the free end at α = 0° and 15°. For AR = 7 to 3, well-defined vortex shedding peaks were detected along the entire height of the prisms. For AR = 11 and 9, at α = 30° and 45°, vortex shedding peaks were absent in the power spectra in the upper part of the wake.

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