Supersonic Laminar Flow Control

Supersonic Laminar Flow Control (LAR-TOPS-311)
Controls laminar flow over all major components of the airframe
NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a technology that is projected to extend the laminar flow area over supersonic flight configurations by delaying the transition of boundary layer flow from laminar to turbulent state. This controls laminar flow over airframe components including wings, empennage, engine nacelles, and the nose region of an aircraft fuselage. It can be used in combination with many of the existing techniques for passive and active laminar flow control, but is particularly well-suited for a supersonic natural laminar flow design by virtue of avoiding the space, weight, system complexity, and maintenance penalties associated with suction based laminar flow control.

The Technology
This technique injects precisely defined stationary transient growth disturbances into the free air slipstream over a wing that develop into streamwise elongated "streaks." These streaks are created with an alternating pattern of low and high streamwise velocity in the boundary layer flow adjacent to the aerodynamic surface of interest. Judicious selection of streak wavelength, amplitude, and profile allows the first-mode instability waves responsible for transition via oblique mode breakdown to be damped while the remaining, uncontrolled waves are kept below an amplification threshold. A similar control concept is also applicable to second mode transition at hypersonic Mach numbers.
A possible embodiment of control device as micro vortex generators. Image Credit: NASA
  • Potential to reduce skin friction drag up to 10-20%
  • Can be used in combination with many of the existing techniques for passive and active laminar flow control
  • Well-suited for a supersonic natural laminar flow design
  • Applicable to multiple components of airframe
  • Can be retrofit to current aircraft

  • Commercial Supersonic aircraft
  • UAVs
  • Military strike aircraft
Technology Details

Stay up to date, follow NASA's Technology Transfer Program on:
facebook twitter linkedin youtube
Facebook Logo Twitter Logo Linkedin Logo Youtube Logo