Fluid flow over an airfoil section creates a pressure difference across the upper and lower surfaces, thus generating lift. Successful wing design is a combination of engineering design and experience in the field, with subtleties in design and manufacture having significant impact on the amount of lift produced. Current methods of airfoil optimization and validation typically involve computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and extensive wind tunnel testing with pressure sensors embedded into the airfoil to measure the pressure over the wing. Monitoring pressure along an airfoil in a wind tunnel is typically achieved using surface pressure taps that consist of hollow tubes running from the surface of the airfoil to individual pressure sensors external to the tunnel. These pressure taps are complex to configure and not ideal for in-flight testing. Fiber Bragg grating (FBG) pressure sensing arrays provide a highly viable option for both wind tunnel and inflight pressure measurement. We present a fiber optic sensor array that can detect positive and negative pressure suitable for validating CFD models of airfoil profile sections. The sensing array presented here consists of 6 independent sensing elements, each capable of a pressure resolution of less than 10 Pa over the range of 70 kPa to 120 kPa. The device has been tested with the sensor array attached to a 90mm chord length airfoil section subjected to low velocity flow. Results show that the arrays are capable of accurately detecting variations of the pressure profile along the airfoil as the angle of attack is varied from zero to the point at which stall occurs.
Anthony W. Papageorgiou, Luke A. Parkinson, Andrew R. Karas, Kristy L. Hansen, and John W. Arkwright, "Monitoring pressure profiles across an airfoil with a fiber Bragg grating sensor array," Proc. SPIE 10539, Photonic Instrumentation Engineering V, 105390C (Presented at SPIE OPTO: January 31, 2018; Published: 22 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2288024.
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