Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Rodney D. W. Bowersox, PhD


This study examined the effect of mild pressure gradients on the mean and turbulent flow of high-speed boundary layers. Three Mach numbers (1.7, 3.0 and 5.0) were investigated. Three pressure gradients were examined; a zero pressure gradient (ZPG), a favorable pressure gradient (FPG), and a combined pressure gradient (CPG). The CPG consisted of an adverse pressure gradient followed by a favorable pressure gradient. Conventional pressure probes, hot-wire and particle image velocimetry (PIV) were used to examine the flow. Measurement included mean velocity, velocity turbulence intensity, mass flux turbulence intensity and energy spectra. Instantaneous (10 nsec) Mie scattering flow visualizations were acquired. Qualitatively, the flow visualizations indicated that the turbulent flow structures were strongly affected by the pressure gradients. For the Mach 2,8 case, the PIV contours and the hot-wire profiles both indicated that the boundary layer thickness increased by 40% and decreased by 100% relative to the ZPG for the favorable and adverse pressure gradients, respectively. Further, the PIV and hot-wire data indicated that the axial turbulence intensity levels increased by 22% for the CPG and decreased by 25% for the FPG. The energy spectra data indicated that once a pressure gradient was applied (favorable or adverse) the low frequency energy increased followed by a rapid decay. Lastly, it was found that nominally 20 to 30 PIV images were sufficient for mean flow boundary layer velocities, but 93 images (the maximum recorded in this study) were insufficient to adequately resolve Reynolds shear stresses.

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