Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Jin Tso


An experiment was performed in the Cal Poly Mechanical Engineering 2x2 ft wind tunnel to quantify the effect of spanwise synthetic jet actuation (SJA) on the drag of a NACA 0015 semispan wing. The wing, which was designed and manufactured for this experiment, has an aspect ratio of 4.20, a span of 0.427 m (16.813”), and is built around an internal array of piezoelectric actuators, which work in series to create a synthetic jet that emanates from the wingtip in the spanwise direction. Direct lift and drag measurements were taken at a Reynolds Number of 100,000 and 200,000 using a load cell/slider mechanism to quantify the effect of actuation on the lift and drag. It was found that the piezoelectric disks used in the synthetic jet actuators cause structural vibrations that have a significant effect on the aerodynamics of the NACA 0015 model. The experiment was performed in a way as to isolate the effect of vibration from the effect of the synthetic jet on the lift and drag. Lift and drag data was supported with pressure readings from 60 pressure ports distributed in rows along the span of the wing. Oil droplet flow visualization was also performed to understand the effect of SJA near the wingtip.

The synthetic jet and vibration had effects on the drag. The synthetic jet with vibration decreased the drag only slightly while vibration alone could decrease drag significantly from 11.3% at α = 4° to 23.4% at α = 10° and Re = 100,000. The lift was slightly increased with a slight increase due to the jet and showed a slight increase due to vibration. Two complete rows of pressure ports at 2y/b = 37.5% and 85.1% showed changes in lift due to actuation as well. The synthetic jet increased the lift near the wingtip at 2y/b = 85.1% and had little to no effect inboard at the 37.5% location, hence, the synthetic jet changes the lift distribution on the wing. Oil flow visualization was used to support this claim. Without actuation, the footprint of the tip vortex was present on the upper surface of the wing. With actuation on, the footprint disappeared suggesting the vortex was pushed off the wingtip by the jet. It is possible that the increased lift with actuation can be caused by the vortex being pushed outboard.