Abstract

The generation of lift is a fundamental problem in aerodynamics and in general in fluid mechanics. The explanations on how lift is generated are often very incomplete or even not correct. Perhaps the most popular explanation of lift is the one with the Bernoulli equation and with the longer path over an airfoil as compared to the path below the airfoil, assuming the flow arrives at the same time at the trailing edge on both paths. This is an intuitive assumption, but no equation is derived from this assumption. In some explanations the Bernoulli equation is also complemented with Newton’s laws of motion. In other explanations Newton’s law is said to be the only explanation. Other explanations mention the Venturi suction effect to explain the generation of lift. In books of aerodynamics and on the homepage of well-known research institutes the explanations are, although better and partially correct, still very often incomplete. In this contribution the generation of lift is explained in a scientific way based on the conservation principles of mass, momentum and energy and how they have to be applied to close the system of equations in order to explain the generation of lift. The most common incomplete or incorrect explanations of lift are also analysed and it is explained why they are incomplete or wrong. In this work the generation of lift is explained based on the conservation equations. It is shown how and when they apply to the problem of lift generation and how the system of equations has to be closed.

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