Communications Project

Document Type:Master's Thesis
Name:Norman Wesley Gimbert II
Title:Development of a Sensor for Inflight Detection of Three-Dimensional Flow Separation on a Wing
Degree:Masters of Science
Department:Aerospace Engineering
Committee Chair: Dr. Joseph A. Schetz
Committee Members:
Keywords:Separated Flow, Detector, Aircraft
Date of defense:July 11, 1997
Availability:Release the entire work for Virginia Tech access only.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


A real need exists for a sensor capable of detecting flow-field separation on an airplane wing during routine flight operations. A sensor of this type could lead to both improved flight safety and increased performance. It would also contribute to future separation control technologies. A new idea is presented for a sensor that is cost effective, easy to maintain, durable, and highly effective. The system, known as a Thermal Grid, works by using a grid of heaters and temperature sensors to trace out the streamlines closest to the surface. Specific singularities in these streamlines are excellent indicators of flow separation. This paper addresses many of the necessary principles that are necessary to making the Thermal Grid an operational device. An analytic design is presented that details the system requirements and potential performance, including heater/sensor spacing, heater power requirements, sensor time response and sensitivity needs and the effects of changes in flow conditions.

List of Attached Files


At the author's request, all materials (PDF files, images, etc.) associated with this ETD are accessible from the Virginia Tech network only.

The author grants to Virginia Tech or its agents the right to archive and display their thesis or dissertation in whole or in part in the University Libraries in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all proprietary rights, such as patent rights. The author also retains the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis or dissertation.