Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical and Materials Engineering


Dr. Eric Savory


The flow regimes associated with a 2:1 aspect ratio, elliptical planform cavity in a turbulent flat plate boundary layer have been systematically examined for various depth/width ratios (0.1 to 1.0) and yaw angles (0° to 90°), using a combination of wind tunnel experiments (involving Particle Image Velocimetry and helium bubble visualization) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations (employing three- dimensional steady calculations with the Reynolds Stress model turbulence closure). Satisfactory agreement has been found between the results using the two methods, indicating that the steady numerical simulations can be a cost-effective tool to predict the mean flow features.

The flow has been found to be highly dependent on yaw angle and cavity depth. For each of the three broad flow categories specified according to yaw angle, which include the symmetric flow regime (yaw angle = 0°), the straight vortex regime (yaw angle = 90°) and the asymmetric flow regime (15° ≤ yaw angle ≤ 60°) different regimes are found to exist, depending on cavity depth. For each combination of yaw angle and depth, the flow has been analyzed through investigation of shear layer parameters, the three-dimensional vortex structure, pressure distribution and drag, wake flow, and vortex oscillations.

While the elliptical cavity flows have been found to have some similarities with those of nominally two-dimensional and rectangular cavities, the three-dimensional effects due to the low aspect ratio and curvature of the walls give rise to features exclusive to low aspect ratio elliptical cavities, including formation of cellular structures at intermediate depths and unique vortex structures within and downstream of the cavity.

The three-dimensional flow structure of the flow is most pronounced in the asymmetric regimes with large yaw angles (45° and 60°). The dominant feature in this regime is the formation of a trailing vortex that is associated with high drag and flow oscillations within the cavity.