NES
S. Peigin
*
, B. Epstein
, S. Seror
AND G. Hoffman
Israel Aerospace Industries, Lod, 70100, Israel
P. Dhandapani
**
ADE, Bengalore, India
This paper describes incorporation of actuator disk model in the form of blade element
theory into NavierStokes CFD code NES. This code can by used for flow analysis over
aircraft with propellers in tractor/pusher configurations. Sections 1 and 2 describe the
technical aspects of the tool, covering the theoretical basis of the method, and details of
the code logic, respectively, while in Section 3 results of validation for several practical
propeller configurations are presented.
Introduction
This work aims at the enhancement of the code NES by implementing a mathematical
model to simulate in quasisteady mode the presence of a propeller. The work consists in
developing the same capability existing in the RANS code FUN3D of NASA Langley
Research Center based on the following references [16].
The method for predicting propeller steady aerodynamics involves the use of the Navier
Stokes equations. Although not yet operational, the computer program NES based on the the
NavierStokes equations is nearly complete. This approach promises new insight into
propeller flow fields especially in the areas of blade boundary layers and blade viscous wakes
as well as improved accuracy for blade leading edge and tip vortex development.
It is common to divide the running propellers influence on the aircraft characteristics
into two parts: the direct and the indirect effects. The direct effects include thrust that acts
along the shaft axis. This force can produce also moments such as pitching moment if it has a
vertical displacement from the center of gravity. Another direct effect is the force acting
normal to the propeller plane. This force is produced when the local flow has an inclination to
the propeller disk. It can affect the pitching and yawing moments. The third direct effect is the
rolling moment due to the torque applied to the propeller shaft. Indirect effects are the
changes in the configuration forces and moments excluding the direct contribution. They arise
from changes in local dynamic pressure on aircraft parts and from changes to local angle of
attack including changes in downwash and side wash angles. The analysis tool under
development will be the NES CFD code. This code solves the RANS equations on arbitrary
configurations, using a multiblock multigrid system. The propellers' effect is modeled in a
special module that uses the following approach:
 Actuator Disc + Blade Element Theory provide jump conditions for steadystate
calculation at the propeller.
 Induced velocity at the disc via a quasisteady PrantdlGlauert correction term to
decrease the load at the tip.
*
Senior Research Scientist, Technical Fellow, IAI CFD Department, speigin@iai.co.il
Senior Aerospace Research Engineer, Technical Fellow, Head CFD Department, sseror@iai.co.il
u e
r
1
q
.
Relative to a stationary blade section, the inflow velocity at the section is u e
1
r q
.
Neglecting the radial component of this velocity, and considering the local speed of sound
from the flowfield, the 2D angle of attack and Mach at the section is known.
Assuming that data are available for various sections along propeller blade, as a function of
and Mach, then the 2D lift, drag and pitch acting on the section (in fact the above mentioned
external forces) may be calculated.
In reality the actuator disk is a limiting case in which the number of blades goes to infinity.
In contrast real propellers have finite number of blades which produce a system of distinct tip
vorticity structures in the wake. Thus, a different vortex wake is produced by a rotor with
infinite number of blades as compared with one with a finite number of blades. Prandtl
derived a formula for the tipcorrection, quantified the factor F, in order to compensate the
finite number of blades. In order to include tipcorrection effects with generalized actuator
disk model, the external aerodynamic forces are corrected using the Prandtl tipcorrection
factor F.
(


\

=
 t sin 2
) (
exp cos .
2
1
r
r R B
F
In the literature, actuator disk implementations fall into two general categories: a boundary
condition approach and a source term approach. The primary difference between the two
approaches is how the propeller is treated in the fluid control volume. In the boundary
condition approach, the control volume is wrapped around the actuator disk in such a way that
the actuator disk lies outside of the control volume. Conversely, in the source approach the
actuator disk is contained inside the control volume. These differences are illustrated in Fig. 1
using a onedimensional duct example.
Figure 1. Comparison of the boundary condition and source based actuator
disk methods.
A typical internal cell without an actuator disk at face 23 will have the same flux on the left
and right sides of the face. For the boundary condition method and source method an actuator
disk will be present between cells 2 and 3. The boundary condition method will update the
flow variables in the same fashion as the typical internal cell. However, the flux at the
actuator disk face will no longer be the same on the left and right sides of the face. Instead,
the fluxes are related by some proportionality condition, which in this case is the imposed
actuator disk boundary condition. In the source term approach the fluxes are computed just as
they were for a typical internal cell, but the update of the flow variables is different. To make
the presence of the actuator disk known to the flow solver, an extra source term is added to
the equation.
The computational implementation of each of these approaches differs significantly. The
source implementation was found to be more robust when solving the RANS equations in the
framework of multiblock / multiface CFD code NES. The source term is obtained once the
force acting on the source elemental area is known. The force is obtained using a pre
specified distribution like a blade element method, which computes the forces based on the
local flow condition. The sources are then added to the governing equations.
C. Addition to the code NES
This section of the report describes additional modules needed to incorporate actuator
disk model in the form of blade element theory into the existing multiblock / multiface
NavierStokes CFD code NES
1. Identification of disk location
Several actuator disks are allowed in the same configuration input. It is assumed that
c Each disk represents a planar circle
c Each disk is located on the face (or a number of faces) of the blocks comprising the
configuration mesh
c Each face may contain only one disk or part of the disk
The number of actuator disks is an input parameter.
To determine the disk location(s), the following data are inputted for each actuator disk
c Cartesian coordinates (X,Y,Z) of the center
c Radius of the disk
c Three components of the unit vector normal to the disk surface. The direction of the
unit vector coincides with the direction of thrust.
Based on these data, disk location(s) are automatically identified by the code. As a result
of this identification, each merged block face is flagged in the following way:
c If the face contains even a part of a disk it is flagged by the positive number of this
disk
c In the opposite case the flag is set to zero
The identification of the disks and the corresponding face flags is performed in the stage
of preprocessing of the code NES where all the geometrical issues are treated.
2. Computation of source terms
Mathematically source terms are calculated dynamically (that is in each numerical
iteration). They depend on the data base provided by the blade element theory (which
includes the specific propeller(s) characteristics) and, on the other side, on the current
flowfield.
The above data base is inputted together with other solver input data such as flow
conditions and numerical parameters. A commonly used arrangement of such data is the
Rotorcraft format. This contains a header noting the number of radial data stations, and the
chords and the twist angles of the sections relative to the disc plane, for each radial station.
Then follows a matrix of lift, drag and pitching moment data for each station, as a function
of the angle of attack and Mach value.
Source terms are computed for each "merged" block face (that is a face common to two
blocks). If the disk actuator flag is set to zero, the corresponding source terms are also set
to zero. Otherwise the source terms are calculated by interpolating the basic data base
according to the local radius of the point, local Mach value, local velocity components,
local angle of attack in relation to the 2D blade profile under consideration and its chord
value.
D. Validation test cases
3. Limitations of the method:
a. Steady state assumption
In accordance with the actuator disc/blade element approach, this method ignores the true
unsteady nature of flow at the propeller. Parts of the configuration near the propeller
experience only a time averaged effect, and are unaware of the cyclic variations in the
flow field generated by the rotating blades. In this respect this method is similar to the vast
majority of practical propeller codes currently used in industry, which can calculate a
range of propeller operating conditions in reasonable time and with modest computer
resources. By contrast, current stateoftheart unsteady propeller codes may run for weeks
on powerful multiprocessor computers, to calculate a single operating point.
b. 2D blade characteristics
According to blade element theory, the aerodynamic forces acting on a section, at some
radial station along the blade, can be estimated based on 2D data for this section, viz. lift
and drag as a function of local Mach and angle of attack, as experienced by a stationary
profile immersed in steady 2D flow. Even after subtracting the circumferential component
r from the actual velocity of the propeller blade section, and introducing the tip effect, it
is clear that the 2D section data is only an approximation to the true aerodynamic force
exerted on the blade element. The method of this report does not consider, for example,
the effect of Coriolis forces acting on the rotating flow. This report does not deal with the
various techniques for adjusting the straightforward 2D profile data, in order to improve
the accuracy of the calculated propeller characteristics.In the validation cases, the
propeller databases were prepared using a 2D code capable of providing reliable 2D
aerodynamic coefficients for a typical airfoil. The 2D code was applied to several blade
sections between the hub and the tip. For each of these sections, the appropriate Mach and
Reynolds numbers were found (taking into account the circumferential speed r at the
section), and the 2D code was run for the widest range of angles of attack possible. It was
then assumed that the coefficient varied linearly from the the value at the minimum
calculated angle of attack to zero at 180 degrees, and linearly from the the value at the
maximum calculated angle of attack to zero at +180 degrees. This technique should suffice
for normal operating conditions, where each blade section should enjoy optimal, stallfree
flow. Obviously this technique is inappropriate if the blade section experiences 2D angles
of attack outside of the range calculated by the 2D code.
4. Validation test cases:
Two cases are presented. The first is from a well known series of experiments at NASA
Langley, documented in NACA Reports 640, 642, dealing with 10 ft. diameter tractor
propellers on typical nacelles. The second is an older (1922) test case described in the
A.R.C reports 829 and 830, which contains comprehensive data from both tractor and
pusher propellers, operating on nacelles of varying degrees of bluntness.
a. NACA Report 642
The NavierStokes code computation results, compared to the NACA Report 642 test case
and MGAERO data [7], are shown in Figures 2 for the propeller thrust coefficient (CT),
Figure 3 for the propeller power coefficient (CP) and in Figure 4 for the propeller
efficiency (ETA). Here
,
4 2
D N
Force
C
T
,
5 3
D N
Power
C
P
P
T
C
J C
= q ,
ND
V
J
=
were  freestream velocity, D diameter of the propeller, N angular propeller
velocity (revs/sec), J advanced ratio coefficient. Additionally, the corresponding flow
visualization over this propeller for pitch angle 20 degree are presented in Figures 57.
V
Acceptable agreement between the NavierStokes code results and the test results can be
observed at most of the operational advance ratio (J) range.
The discrepancy with experiment at low advance ratio values is due to stall that may occur
in this regime, leading to inappropriate 2D database values for high angles of attack. For
larger advance ratios, the inaccuracy is compatible with an error of about 1 degree in the
pitch angle of the propeller.
Figure 2: NACA Report 642 and MGAERO results vs NES code Thrust coefficient
Figure 3: NACA Report 642 and MGAERO results vs NES code Power coefficient
Figure 4: NACA Report 642 and MGAERO results vs NES code Efficiency
Figure 5: Flow visualization over NACA 642 propeller for J=0.66, pitch=20 deg.
Figure 6: Flow visualization over NACA 642 propeller for J=0.66, pitch=20 deg.
Figure 7: Flow visualization over NACA 642 propeller for J=0.66, pitch=20 deg.
b. A.R.C. Reports 829, 830
Figures 8, 9 & 10 presents the comparison of the NES code computation results, compared
to the ARC 829 Report test results and MGAERO data, for CT, CP & ETA respectively.
Figure 8: Thrust coefficient for a 4bladed tractor propeller on a minimum body.
Figure 9: Power coefficient for a 4bladed tractor propeller on a minimum body.
Figure 10: Efficiency coefficient for a 4bladed tractor propeller on a minimum body
The ARC 830 Report presents the effect of different bodies P, Q and R, on the
performance of a pusher propeller configuration, as shown in Figure 11. The ratios of the
maximum body diameter to the propeller diameter are 0.40, 0.60 and 0.75, respectively
Figure 11: Comparison of pusher body configurations P, Q and R.
Figures 12, 13 & 14 presents the comparison of the NES code computation results, compared
to the ARC 830 Report test results and MGAERO data, for CT, CP & ETA respectively.
As it can be observed from these figures, NavierStokes computations provide a better
comparison with experiment than the corresponding Euler results. This is due to a
significantly more adequate simulation of the separation zone after the blunt body.
Figure 12: ARC Report 830 and MGAERO results vs NES code Thrust coefficient
Figure 13: ARC Report 830 and MGAERO results vs NES code Power coefficient
Figure 14: ARC Report 830 and MGAERO results vs NES code Shaft Efficiency
I. Conclusion
The results obtained by the NavierStokes code NES with incorporated actuator disk model
in form of bladeelement theory demonstrate accuracy comparable to standard standalone
propeller codes, with the additional benefit of the inclusion of the interference effects between
the propeller and the configuration geometry.
Acknowledgments
This work was done with the financial support of MAFAT IMOD and ADE in the
framework of a commercial agreement between Israel Aerospace Industries and ADE.
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