This paper investigates the performance of the popular k-ω and SST turbulence models for the two-dimensional flow past the flat plate at shallow angles of incidence. Particular interest is paid to the leading edge bubble that forms as the flow separates from the sharp leading edge. This type of leading edge bubble is most commonly found in flows past thin airfoils, such as turbine blades, membrane wings, and yacht sails. Validation is carried out through a comparison to wind tunnel results compiled by Crompton (2001, “The Thin Aerofoil Leading Edge Bubble,” Ph.D. thesis, University of Bristol). This flow problem presents a new and demanding test case for turbulence models. The models were found to capture the leading edge bubble well with the Shear-Stress Transport (SST) model predicting the reattachment length within 7% of the experimental values. Downstream of reattachment both models predicted a slower boundary layer recovery than the experimental results. Overall, despite their simplicity, these two-equation models do a surprisingly good job for this demanding test case.

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