Active flow control has recently received an increasing attention since it allows to directly manipulate the flow-field around a surface only when it is effectively requested. Aerodynamic plasma actuators supplied by a dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) can be used for this purpose. Usually, sinusoidal voltages in the range 5–50 kV peak and frequencies between 1 and 100 kHz are utilized to ignite this plasma typology. The surface discharge produced by these devices is able to tangentially accelerate the flow field by means of the electrohydrodynamic (EHD) interaction. DBDs generate non-thermal plasmas characterized by low input energies and limited temperature increments. Plasma actuators can be easily designed by following the shape of the aerodynamic body and can be used over heat-sensitive surfaces. These aerodynamic devices have demonstrated to produce boundary layer modifications with induced speeds up to 10 m/s. Their use over airfoils, flaps, and blades have shown the possibility to delay the transition between laminar to turbulent regime, to prevent flow separation enhancing lift and reducing drag. Moreover, the adoption of these actuators over landing gears and trailing edges may induce a noise reduction effect. Dielectric materials, electrodes configuration, and supplying waveforms are most relevant parameters to be considered to enhance actuator performance. On a parallel plane, on/off actuation strategy is a key point in the use of these devices when utilized over aerodynamic surfaces impinged within an external flow.
Part of the book: Recent Progress in Some Aircraft Technologies