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The hydrodynamic stability of flow over Kramer-type compliant surfaces. Part 1. Tollmien-Schlichting instabilities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2006

P. W. Carpenter
Department of Engineering Science, University of Exeter, Exeter, England
A. D. Garrad
Garrad Hassan and Partners, 10 Northampton Square, London, EC1M 5PQ, England


The hydrodynamic stability of flows over Kramer-type compliant surfaces is studied. Two main types of instability are considered. First, there are those which could not exist without viscosity, termed Tollmien–Schlichting Type Instabilities (TSI). Secondly, there are Flow-Induced Surface Instabilities (FISI), that depend fundamentally on surface flexibility and could exist with an inviscid fluid flow. Part 1, the present paper, deals mainly with the first type. The original Kramer experiments and the various subsequent attempts to confirm his results are reviewed, together with experimental studies of transition in flows over compliant surfaces and theoretical work concerned with the hydrodynamic stability of such flows.

The Kramer-type compliant surface is assumed to be an elastic plate supported by springs which are modelled by an elastic foundation. It is also assumed that the plate is backed by a viscous fluid substrate having, in general, a density and viscosity different from the mainstream fluid. The motion of the substrate fluid is assumed to be unaffected by the presence of the springs and is determined by solving the linearized Navier–Stokes equations. The visco-elastic properties of the plate and springs are taken into account approximately by using a complex elastic modulus which leads to complex flexural rigidity and spring stiffness. Values for the various parameters characterizing the surface properties are estimated for the actual Kramer coatings.

The boundary-layer stability problem for a flexible surface is formulated in a similar way to that of Landahl (1962) whereby the boundary condition at the surface is expressed in terms of an equality between the surface and boundary-layer admittances. This form of the boundary condition is exploited to develop an approximate theory which determines whether a particular change to the mechanical properties of the surface will be stabilizing or destabilizing with respect to the TSI. It is shown that a reduction in flexural rigidity and spring stiffness, an increase in plate mass, and the presence of an inviscid fluid substrate are all stabilizing, whereas viscous and visco-elastic damping are destabilizing.

Numerical solutions to the Orr–Sommerfeld equation are also obtained. Apart from Kramer-type compliant surfaces, solutions are also presented for the rigid wall, for the spring-backed tensioned membrane with damping, previously considered by Landahl & Kaplan (1965), and for some of the compliant surfaces investigated experimentally by Babenko and his colleagues. The results for the Kramer-type compliant surfaces on the whole confirm the predictions of the simple theory. For a free-stream speed of 18 m/s the introduction of a viscous substrate leads to a complex modal interaction between the TSI and FISI. A single combined unstable mode is formed in the case of highly viscous substrate fluids and in this case increased damping has a stabilizing effect. When the free-stream speed is reduced to 15 m/s the modal interaction no longer occurs. In this case the effects of combined viscous and visco-elastic damping are investigated. It is found that damping tends to have a strong stabilizing effect on the FISI, in the form of travelling-wave flutter, but a weaker destabilizing effect on the TSI. The opposing effects of damping on the two modes of instability forms the basis of a possible explanation for Kramer's empirical observation of an optimum substrate viscosity. Results obtained using the e9 method also indicate that a substantial transition delay is theoretically possible for flows over Kramer's compliant coatings.

Research Article
© 1985 Cambridge University Press

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