The continuous tendency in modern aeroengine gas turbines towards reduction of blade count and ducts length may lead to aerodynamic loading increase beyond the limit of boundary layer separation. For this reason boundary layer separation control methods, up to now mostly employed in external aerodynamics, begin to be experimented in internal flows applications. The present paper reports the results of a detailed experimental study on low profile vortex generators used to control boundary layer separation on a large-scale flat plate with prescribed adverse pressure gradients. Inlet turbulent boundary layer conditions and pressure gradients are representative of aggressive turbine intermediate ducts. This activity is part of a joint European research program on Aggressive Intermediate Duct Aerodynamics (AIDA). The pressure gradients on the flat plate are generated by increasing the aperture angle of a movable wall opposite to the flat plate. To avoid separation on the movable wall, boundary layer suction is applied on it. Complementary measurements (surface static pressure distributions, surface flow visualizations by means of wall mounted tufts, instantaneous and time-averaged velocity fields in the meridional and cross-stream planes by means of Particle Image Velocimetry) have been used to survey the flow with and without vortex generators. Three different pressure gradients, which induce turbulent separation in absence of boundary layer control, were tested. Vortex generators height and location effects on separation reduction and pressure recovery increase were investigated. For the most effective VGs configurations detailed analyses of the flow field were performed, that demonstrate the effectiveness of this passive control device to control separation in diffusing ducts. Particle Image Velocimetry vector and vorticity plots illustrate the mechanisms by which the vortex generators transfer momentum towards the surface, re-energizing the near-wall flow and preserving the boundary layer from separation.

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