Immersed bodies such as struts, vanes, and instrumentation probes in gas turbine flow systems will, except at the lowest of flow velocities, shed separated wakes. These wakes can have both upstream and downstream effects on the surrounding flow. In most applications, surrounding components are designed to be in the presence of a quasi-steady or at least non-variant flow field. The presence of unsteady wakes has both aerodynamic and structural consequences. Active flow control of wake generation can therefore be very valuable. One means to implement active flow control is by the use of plasma actuation. Plasma actuation is the use of strong electric fields to generate ionized gas that can be actuated and controlled using the electric fields. The controlling device can be based on AC, DC, or pulsed-DC actuation. The present research was conducted using pulsed-DC from a capacitive discharge power supply.

The study demonstrates the applicability of, specifically, pulsed-DC plasma flow control of the flow on a circular cylinder at high Reynolds numbers. The circular cylinder was selected because its flow characteristics are related to gas turbine flowpath phenomena, and are well characterized. Further, the associated pressure gradients are some of the most severe encountered in fluid applications. The development of effective plasma actuators at high Reynolds numbers under the influence of severe pressure gradients is a necessary step toward developing useful actuators for gas turbine applications beyond laboratory use.

The reported experiments were run at Reynolds numbers varying from 50,000 to 97,000, and utilizing various pulse frequencies. Further, the observed performance differences with varying electric field strengths are discussed for these Reynolds numbers. The results show that flow behaviors at high Reynolds numbers can be influenced by these types of actuators. The actuators were able to demonstrate a reduction in both wake width and momentum deficit.

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