Receptivity to free-stream vorticity of flow past a flat plate with elliptic leading edge

Authors: Schrader, L.-U., Brandt, L.B., Mavriplis, C, Henningson, D.S.H.
Document Type: Article
Pubstate: Published
Journal: J. Fluid Mech.
Volume: 653   245-271
Year: 2010


Receptivity of the two-dimensional boundary layer on a flat plate with elliptic leading edge is studied. Vortical perturbations in the oncoming free-stream are considered, impinging on two leading edges with different aspect ratio to identify the effect of bluntness. The relevance of the three vorticity components of natural free-stream turbulence is illuminated by considering axial, vertical and spanwise vorticity separately at different angular frequencies. The boundary layer is most receptive to zero-frequency axial vorticity, triggering a streaky pattern of alternating positive and negative streamwise disturbance velocity. This is in line with earlier numerical studies on nonmodal growth of elongated structures in the Blasius boundary layer. We find that the effect of leading-edge bluntness is insignificant for axial free-stream vortices alone. On the other hand, vertical free-stream vorticity is also able to excite nonmodal instability in particular at zero and low frequencies. This mechanism relies on the generation of streamwise vorticity through stretching and tilting of the vertical vortex columns at the leading edge and is significantly stronger when the leading edge is blunt. It can thus be concluded that the nonmodal boundary-layer response to a free-stream turbulence field with three-dimensional vorticity is enhanced in the presence of a blunt leading edge. At high frequencies of the disturbances the boundary layer becomes receptive to spanwise free-stream vorticity, triggering Tollmien-Schlichting (T-S) modes, and receptivity increases with leading-edge bluntness. The receptivity coefficients to free-stream vortices are found to be about 15% of those to sound waves reported in the literature. For the boundary layers and free-stream perturbations considered, the amplitude of the T-S waves remains small compared with the low-frequency streak amplitudes.