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The aerodynamic performance of low Reynolds number (≤ 5.0 × 105) airfoils, for instance, the airfoils of micro air vehicles and the small-to-medium scale wind turbines, is strongly influenced by the laminar boundary-layer separation. The boundary layer on the suction surface of airfoil may separate due to adverse pressure gradient, and form a large wake behind the airfoil, resulting in deteriorated aerodynamic performance. Therefore, it is crucially important to deploy flow control techniques for achieving lift enhancement and stall angle-of-attack postponement. With promising advantages, such as ultra-low mass, no moving mechanical part and rapid response time, the dielectric barrier discharge plasma actuator has been demonstrated successfully as an effective electro-hydrodynamics device for flow separation control over airfoils.


Examples of discharge filaments formed by the sawtooth and linear DBD plasma actuators with the same power of 36 W.

Typical photographs of the flow over the airfoil with and without plasma control. The upwards pointing arrow indicates the location the plasma discharge.