The present work is focused on the investigation of an alternate current driven single dielectric barrier discharge plasma actuator (AC-SDBDPA) for the control of separated flow at Reynolds numbers up to 2·104. Laminar boundary layer separation typically occurs on the suction surface of the low pressure turbines (LPT) blades when operating at high altitude cruise conditions, as the Reynolds number can drop below 2.5·104. In this context, the implementation of an active boundary layer control system able to operate in suppressing separation — only at the critical Reynolds numbers — is of great interest. The SDBDPA was manufactured by means of the photolithographic technique, which ensured a thin metal deposition with high manufacturing reliability control. Actuator operation under sinusoidal voltage at 8 kV amplitude and 2 kHz frequency was considered. Investigations were performed in a closed loop wind tunnel. A curved plate with a shape designed to reproduce the suction surface of a LPT was mounted directly over the bottom wall of the test section. The SDBDPA was inserted in a groove made at the middle of the curved plate, located at the front side of the adverse pressure gradient region. The flow pattern and velocities in absence of actuation were experimentally measured by a two-dimensional (2-D) particle image velocimetry (PIV) system and a laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV) system. PIV measurements were performed in presence of actuation. Simultaneously to the velocity measurements, the voltage applied to the AC-SDBDPA and the discharge current flowing through the circuit were acquired in order to determine the power dissipated by the device. The experimental data were supported by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations based on the finite volume method. In order to deeply investigate the effect of flow separation control by the AC-SDBDPA on the LPT blade performances, the viscous and unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations were solved to predict the characteristics of the flow with and without actuation. The actuation effect was modelled as a time-constant body force calculated prior to the fluid flow simulations by using the dual potential algebraic model. The experimental data were used to calibrate and successfully validate the numerical model. An unsteady RANS (URANS) approach, using the k-ω Lam and Bremhorst Low-Reynolds turbulence model was employed, accounting with the main transient flow structures. Results showed that the mixing action of the streamwise fluid with higher momentum and the boundary layer fluid with the lower momentum -due to the AC-SDBDPA-led, depending on the tested Reynolds number, to the alleviation or suppression of the boundary layer flow separation which occurred on the suction surface of the LPT blade. The validated numerical model will allow expanding the study of the actuation effect including different locations and multiple devices, saving considerably experimental efforts.

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