[EnAble]: Developing and Exploiting Intelligent Approaches for Turbulent Drag Reduction

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Aeronautics


Whenever air flows over a commercial aircraft or a high-speed train, a thin layer of turbulence is generated close to the surface of the vehicle. This region of so-called wall-turbulence generates a resistive force known as skin-friction drag which is responsible for more than half of the vehicle's energy consumption. Taming the turbulence in this region reduces the skin-friction drag force, which in turn reduces the vehicle's energy consumption and thereby reduces transport emissions, leading to economic savings and wider health and environmental benefits through improved air quality. To place this into context, just a 3% reduction in the turbulent skin-friction drag force experienced by a single long-range commercial aircraft would save £1.2M in jet fuel per aircraft per year and prevent the annual release of 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. There are currently around 23,600 aircraft in active service around the world. Active wall-turbulence control is seen as a key upstream technology currently at very low technology readiness level that has the potential to deliver a step change in vehicle performance. Yet despite this significance and well over 50 years of research, the complexity of wall-turbulence has prevented the realisation of any functional and economical fluid-flow control strategies which can reduce the turbulent skin-friction drag forces of industrial air flows of interest.

The EnAble project aims to develop, implement and exploit machine intelligence paradigms to enable a new approach to wall-turbulence control. This new form of intelligent fluid-flow control will be used to develop practical wall-turbulence control strategies that can rapidly and autonomously optimise the aerodynamic surface with minimal power input whilst being adaptive to changes in flow speed. This new capability will open up the opportunity to discover new ways to tame wall-turbulence and exploit the latest drag reduction mechanisms to generate significant levels of turbulent skin-friction drag reduction.


10 25 50
Title Xcompact3d 
Description Xcompact3d is a Fortran-based framework of high-order finite-difference flow solvers dedicated to the study of turbulent flows. Dedicated to Direct and Large Eddy Simulations (DNS/LES) for which the largest turbulent scales are simulated, it can combine the versatility of industrial codes with the accuracy of spectral codes. Its user-friendliness, simplicity, versatility, accuracy, scalability, portability and efficiency makes it an attractive tool for the Computational Fluid Dynamics community. XCompact3d is currently able to solve the incompressible and low-Mach number variable density Navier-Stokes equations using sixth-order compact finite-difference schemes with a spectral-like accuracy on a monobloc Cartesian mesh. It was initially designed in France in the mid-90's for serial processors and later converted to HPC systems. It can now be used efficiently on hundreds of thousands CPU cores to investigate turbulence and heat transfer problems thanks to the open-source library 2DECOMP&FFT (a Fortran-based 2D pencil decomposition framework to support building large-scale parallel applications on distributed memory systems using MPI; the library has a Fast Fourier Transform module). When dealing with incompressible flows, the fractional step method used to advance the simulation in time requires to solve a Poisson equation. This equation is fully solved in spectral space via the use of relevant 3D Fast Fourier transforms (FFTs), allowing the use of any kind of boundary conditions for the velocity field. Using the concept of the modified wavenumber (to allow for operations in the spectral space to have the same accuracy as if they were performed in the physical space), the divergence free condition is ensured up to machine accuracy. The pressure field is staggered from the velocity field by half a mesh to avoid spurious oscillations created by the implicit finite-difference schemes. The modelling of a fixed or moving solid body inside the computational domain is performed with a customised Immersed Boundary Method. It is based on a direct forcing term in the Navier-Stokes equations to ensure a no-slip boundary condition at the wall of the solid body while imposing non-zero velocities inside the solid body to avoid discontinuities on the velocity field. This customised IBM, fully compatible with the 2D domain decomposition and with a possible mesh refinement at the wall, is based on a 1D expansion of the velocity field from fluid regions into solid regions using Lagrange polynomials or spline reconstructions. In order to reach high velocities in a context of LES, it is possible to customise the coefficients of the second derivative schemes (used for the viscous term) to add extra numerical dissipation in the simulation as a substitute of the missing dissipation from the small turbulent scales that are not resolved. Xcompact3d is currently being used by many research groups worldwide to study gravity currents, wall-bounded turbulence, wake and jet flows, wind farms and active flow control solutions to mitigate turbulence. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact see list of publications 
URL http://www.incompact3d.com