Castiglioni, G., Domaradzki, J.A., Pasquariello, V., Hickel, S., Grilli, M. (2014)
International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow 49: 92-99. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheatfluidflow.2014.02.003

Flows over airfoils and blades in rotating machinery, for unmanned and micro-aerial vehicles, wind turbines, and propellers consist of a laminar boundary layer near the leading edge that is often followed by a laminar separation bubble and transition to turbulence further downstream. Typical RANS turbulence models are inadequate for such flows. Direct numerical simulation (DNS) is the most reliable, but is also the most computationally expensive alternative. This work assesses the capability of Immersed Boundary (IB) methods and Large Eddy Simulations (LES) to reduce the computational requirements for such flows and still provide high quality results.

Two-dimensional and three-dimensional simulations of a laminar separation bubble on a NACA-0012 airfoil at Rec = 50 000 at 5° of incidence have been performed with an IB code and a commercial code using body fitted grids. Several Subgrid Scale (SGS) models have been implemented in both codes and their performance evaluated. For the two-dimensional simulations with the IB method the results show good agreement with DNS benchmark data for the pressure coefficient and the friction coefficient but only when using dissipative numerical schemes. There is evidence that this behavior can be attributed to the ability of dissipative schemes to damp numerical noise coming from the IB. For the three-dimensional simulations the results show a good prediction of the separation point, but inaccurate prediction of the reattachment point unless full DNS resolution is used. The commercial code shows good agreement with the DNS benchmark data in both two and three-dimensional simulations, but the presence of significant, unquantified numerical dissipation prevents a conclusive assessment of the actual prediction capabilities of very coarse LES with low order schemes in general case.