Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Russell V. Westphal, Ph.D


Traditionally, the measurement of turbulence has been conducted using hot-wire anemometry. This thesis presents the implementation of a constant voltage hot-wire anemometer for use with the Boundary Layer Data System (BLDS). A hot-wire calibration apparatus has been developed that is capable of operation inside a vacuum chamber and flow speeds up to 50 m/s. Hot-wires operated with a constant-voltage anemometer (CVA) were calibrated at absolute static pressures down to 26 kPa. A thermal/electrical model for a hot-wire and the CVA circuit successfully predicted the measured CVA output voltage trend at reduced pressure environments; however, better results were obtained when the Nusselt number was increased. A calibration approach that required only one measured flow speed was developed to allow autonomous calibrations of a CVA hot-wire. The single-point calibration approach was evaluated through comparison with the experimental data from the vacuum chamber over a range of 14-50 m/s and at pressures from 26 to 100 kPa. The thermal-electrical model was used to make predictions of CVA output voltage and the corresponding flow speed for conditions that could not be replicated within a laboratory. The first set of predictions were made for conditions from 7.5 to 100 kPa, at a constant temperature of 25⁰C, within a flight speed range of 40 to 150 m/s. Single-point calibrations were developed from these predictions. Additionally, the thermal-electrical model was used to predict hot-wire response for a change in temperature of 25⁰C at 26 kPa and the single-point calibration developed for the pressure range 7.5 to 100 kPa was tested for its ability to adjust. The temperature variation at a single pressure of 26 kPa proved that the single-point function was capable of adapting to off-standard temperatures with the largest deviations of +/- 7% in the mid-range velocities. With a temperature drop, the deviations were below 5%. The second set of thermal-electrical predictions involved conditions for altitude from 0 to 18 km at flow speeds from 40 to 150 m/s. A single-point calibration was developed for altitude conditions. Furthermore, to test the single-point calibration the thermal-electrical model was used to predict hot-re response for a temperature variation of 25⁰C at 18 km. The single-point calibration developed for altitude proved that it was capable of adjusting to a temperature variation of 25⁰C with maximum deviations of about 5% at mid-range velocities. It is proposed that the single-point calibration approach could be employed for CVA measurements with the Boundary Layer Data System (BLDS) to allow hot-wire data to be acquired autonomously during flight tests.

Available for download on Thursday, March 15, 2018