Verification of drag-reduction capabilities of stiff compliant coatings in air flow at moderate speeds

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Skin frictional drag reduction efficiency of “stiff” compliant coating was investigated in a wind tunnel experiment. Flat plate compliant coating inserts were installed in a wind tunnel and the measurements of skin frictional drag and velocity field were carried out. The compliant coatings with varying viscoelastic properties had been prepared using different composition. In order to optimize the coating thickness, the most important design parameter, the dynamic viscoelastic properties had been determined experimentally. The aging of the materials (variation of their properties) during half a year was documented as well. A design procedure proposed by Kulik et al. (2008) was applied to get an optimal value for the coating thickness. Along with the drag measurement using the strain balance, velocity and pressure were measured for different coatings. The compliant coatings with the thickness h = 7mm achieved 4~5% drag reduction within a velocity range 30~40 m/s. The drag reduction mechanism of the attenuation of turbulence velocity fluctuations due to the compliant coating was demonstrated. It is envisioned that larger drag reduction effect is obtainable at higher flow velocities for high speed trains and subsonic aircrafts.

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