Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


Russell V. Westphal


This thesis presents the use of an unsteady total pressure measurement to detect laminar-to-turbulent transition. A miniature dynamic pressure transducer, Kulite model XCS-062-5D, was utilized to measure the total pressure fluctuations, and was integrated with an autonomous boundary layer measurement device that can withstand flight test conditions. Various sensor-probe configurations of the Kulite pressure transducer were first examined in a wind tunnel with a 0.610 m (2.0 ft) square test section with a maximum operational velocity of 49.2 m/s (110 mph), corresponding dynamic pressure of 1.44 kPa (30 psf). The Kulite sensor was placed on an elliptical nose flat plate where the flow was known to be turbulent. The Kulite sensor was then evaluated to measure total pressure fluctuations in laminar, turbulent, and transition of boundary layers developed on the flat plate in the same wind tunnel. The root-mean-square value of total pressure fluctuations was less than 1 % of the local free-stream dynamic pressure in the laminar boundary layer, but was about 2 % in the turbulent boundary layer. The value increased to 4 % in transition, indicating that the total pressure fluctuation measurements can be used not only to distinguish the laminar boundary layer from the turbulent boundary layer, but also to identify the transition region. The unsteady total pressure measurement was also conducted in a with a 2.13 m (7.0 ft) by 3.05 m (10.0 ft) section with similar operational velocity range as the previous wind tunnel. The Kulite sensor was placed on a wing model under laminar and transition conditions. The testing yielded similar results, demonstrating the usefulness of total pressure measurement for identifying the laminar-to-turbulent transition.