The transition from a laminar to turbulent boundary layer on a wing operating at low Reynolds numbers can have a large effect on its aerodynamic performance. For a wing operating in ground effect, where very low pressures and large pressure gradients are common, the effect is even greater. A study was conducted into the effect of forcing boundary-layer transition on the suction surface of an inverted GA(W)-1 section single-element wing in ground effect, which is representative of a racing-car front wing. Transition to a turbulent boundary layer was forced at varying chordwise locations and compared to the free-transition case using experimental and computational methods. Forcing transition caused the laminar-separation bubble, which was the unforced transition mechanism, to be eliminated in all cases and trailing-edge separation to occur instead. The aerodynamic forces produced by the wing with trailing-edge separation were shown to be dependent on trip location. As the trip was moved upstream the separation point also moved upstream, this led to an increase in drag and reduction in downforce. In addition to significant changes to the pressure field around the wing, turbulent energy in the wake was considerably reduced by forcing transition. The differences between free- and forced-transition wings were shown to be significant, highlighting the importance of modeling transition for ground-effect wings. Additionally, it has been shown that while it is possible to reproduce the force coefficient of a higher Reynolds-number case by forcing the boundary layer to a turbulent state, the flow features, both on-surface and off-surface, are not recreated.

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