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Circulation Theory of Propellers

  • 1. Modern theoretical methods of propeller design are based upon the vortex theory first enunciated by F. W. Lanchester

  • 2. Consider the type of streamline flow shown

Circulation Theory of Propellers 1. Modern theoretical methods of propeller design are based upon the vortex
Circulation Theory of Propellers 1. Modern theoretical methods of propeller design are based upon the vortex

r = radius vector drawn from O to any point in the field

v = velocity at any point, which is everywhere normal to radius vector

  • 3. An inner streamline of radius r o can be considered as representing the wall of a cylinder whose axis is normal to the plane of the flow and around which the fluid circulates.

  • 4. When the radius is very small, we have what is known as a vortex tube or filament

  • 5. Vortex filaments in ideal fluids have interesting properties, among which may be mentioned that any

given vortex filament is permanently composed of the same fluid particles and that it cannot terminate abruptly

in the interior of the fluid but must either return on itself

or terminate on the boundary of the fluid region. 6. If the cylinder is placed in a uniform stream in such an

ideal fluid, but without any such circulation flow, the streamlines will be symmetrical and no force will be exerted upon the cylinder.

7. If now a circulation flow is imposed around the cylinder, the flow pattern becomes asymmetrical.

7. If now a circulation flow is imposed around the cylinder, the flow pattern becomes asymmetrical.

8. At the point E the velocity parallel to the flow axis is V o +
  • 8. At the point E the velocity parallel to the flow axis is

V o +v while at F it

is V o v

9. This asymmetry of velocity distribution gives rise to a similar asymmetry in pressure distribution, the pressure at F being greater than that at E.

  • 10. As a result, a force is exerted on the cylinder at right

angles to the direction of the uniform stream flow.

  • 11. The production of such a force on a rotating cylinder

in a stream is called the Magnus effect

Mathematical concept of circulation

  • 1. A and B be two points connected by any plane curve,

and let

ω

be a vector at the point P on the curve which

makes the angle ξ with the direction of the line element .

ds

Mathematical concept of circulation 1. A and B be two points connected by any plane curve,
Mathematical concept of circulation 1. A and B be two points connected by any plane curve,
  • 2. Then the line integral between A and B is defined by the expression

2. Then the line integral between A and B is defined by the expression 3. In
  • 3. In the special case when the vector ω denotes a velocity and the integration is performed around a closed curve,

Γ= ωcosξ ds

the line integral Γ is called the circulation

  • 4. This type of flow has the peculiarity that when a closed curve is drawn in the field and the line integral along this closed curve is evaluated, the circulation is zero when the

curve does not surround the origin O, but has the

constant value 2πc when the curve surrounds the origin.

  • 5. Consider the two points A and B which are connected by

any curve whatsoever.

curve does not surround the origin O, but has the constant value 2 πc when the
  • 6. By definition, the line integral along the curve is

curve does not surround the origin O, but has the constant value 2 πc when the
  • 7. In order to evaluate this integral, we replace the chosen curve by a stepped line consisting of short radial lines and circular arcs.

  • 8. The integration along the radial lines contributes nothing to the final value, since the line element and the velocity vector are normal to each other, and consequently cos (ξ ) is zero.

  • 9. The integration along the circular arcs, however, yields

a definite value, since in this case

cos (ξ )

is unity.

  • 10. Reasoning in this manner, we find for the value of

the integral along the arbitrarily chosen curve

7. In order to evaluate this integral, we replace the chosen curve by a stepped line

where ψ o is the angle included between the radii through A and B.

  • 11. The + sign applies when the integration is made in

one direction, the — sign when made in the reverse direction.

  • 12. It appears from this equation that the value of the

line integral is independent of the path and depends only

on the end points.

  • 13. It follows therefore that if we integrate from A to B

along an arbitrary path such as ACB and then integrate in

the reverse direction along any other path not

surrounding the origin, such as BDA, the value of the integral around the closed loop ACBDA will be zero.

  • 14. But if we integrate around a closed curve

surrounding the origin 'O', so that the angle ψ o has the

value 2π the line integral around the loop, or the circulation, will have the value 2πc .

  • 15. The transverse force L acting on the cylinder with

circulation in a uniform flow is given by

Kutta-Joukowski Equation 16. Great generalizations of mechanics, since it applies to all bodies regardless of their

Kutta-Joukowski Equation

  • 16. Great generalizations of mechanics, since it applies

to all bodies regardless of their shape, the shape factor

being contained in the circulation factor

  • 17. By the aid of this equation the mathematical

discussion of propeller action is greatly simplified, because we do not have to consider the shape of the

propeller blades until the very end, in the meantime

regarding them merely as vortex filaments or lifting lines endowed with circulation.

  • 18. These lifting lines are regarded as having finite

lengths, corresponding to the lengths of the blades, not

terminating abruptly at the tips, however, but having continuations, so-called tip vortices, at the free ends.

  • 19. Such continuations do exist at the tips of airplane

wings and at the tips and roots of propeller blades, as is readily shown by wind-tunnel or water-tunnel experiments.

  • 20. The lift produced by an aircraft wing or a propeller

blade is the result of an increased pressure on the face

and a decreased pressure on the back.

  • 21. Since the fluid follows the pressure gradient, it tends

to spill over the free ends from the face to the back,

creating powerful vortices downstream, the axes of which

are practically at right angles to the axis of the wing or blade, and which form the boundaries of the fluid layer which has been in contact with the blade.

  • 22. The simpler case of an aircraft wing in flight through

still air is illustrated. The equivalent bound vortex in this case travels in a straight line at right angles to its axis.

23. If the circulation of this bound vortex is assumed to be constant along its length,
  • 23. If the circulation of this bound vortex is assumed to

be constant along its length, we have the simple system in which AA is the bound vortex and AB the free tip vortices already mentioned. This simple system is a useful concept and helps us to visualize the phenomenon, but does not express adequately the actual flow conditions around the wing.

  • 24. In reality the lift of the wing decreases from a

maximum value at midspan to zero at the ends, and so

the circulation around the wing must vary likewise.

  • 25. Assuming that the circulation around the bound

vortex AA varies continuously as shown by the curve, then it can be shown by interpreting circulation in terms of its original definition as a line integral that free

vortices flow not only off the free ends but also all along the trailing edge of AA, forming together a vortex sheet.

  • 26. The strength of any individual vortex in the sheet is

equal to the change in circulation at that point on AA.

  • 27. Thus, if at distances and from midspan the

circulation strengths are and respectively, the free vortex

formed between and will have a strength equal to

  • 28. Considering now two individual vortices in the

sheet,located at opposite sides of the midspan, each lies

in the velocity field of the other and thus must assume the downward velocity existing at that point of the field.

  • 29. Inasmuch as this is true for all the vortices in the

sheet, it follows that the sheet as a whole assumes a

downward velocity. It was shown by Prandtl (1979) that this downward velocity is constant across the sheet when the distribution function represents an ellipse.

  • 30. Along the vortex sheet, however, from AA to infinity

at the right, the induced downward velocity is not constant but varies from the value at a very large

distance from A A to the value /2 at AA.

  • 31. This can be proved rigorously by a theorem on

vortex motion which has an equivalent in

electrodynamics and is known as the Biot-Savart law.

  • 32. In a general way its truth can be perceived by the

following reasoning. Let the vortex system in Fig. 15 be

supplemented by a like system extending from AA to infinity at the left.

  • 33. The whole infinitely long vortex system would then

move downward with the velocity in accordance with the

foregoing discussion.

  • 34. At AA this velocity would be composed in equal

measure of that induced by vortices belonging to the

supplementary system and by vortices belonging to the original system.

  • 35. Removing the supplementary system, and so

reverting to the system shown in the figure, leaves only

the value at the location of the bound vortex.

  • 36. Similar conclusions were reached in the case of an

advancing propeller blade (Prandtl, et al, 1927).

  • 37. The vortex sheet in this case is the helicoidal layer of

fluid trailing behind the blade, and the induced velocity, which is normal to the helicoidal layer and so tends to

push the sheet astern along the propeller axis and to rotate it about this axis, is identical with the previously defined slip velocity.

  • 38. A theorem analogous to that just mentioned holds in

this case also—that the induced velocity at the position of the bound vortex, i.e., at the propeller disk, is or one half

that at a great distance behind the propeller.

  • 39. Betz further developed the important theorem that a

propeller blade will have the smallest energy losses

resulting from the induced velocities when the helicoidal vortex sheet is pushed astern along the shaft axis and rotated about this axis as though it were a

  • 40. rigid sheet.

  • 41. This theorem furnishes a simple and definite rule for

the design of the propeller blade in practice; in order to

obtain the maximum propeller efficiency, which is usually

the aim of the designer, the blades must be so designed that the inflow velocity is the same for every blade element.

  • 42. The application of the circulation theory to propeller

design enables various refinements to be made to the

simple blade-element theory already described.

43.In particular, it enables the induced velocity to be calculated, an so the axial and radial inflow factors a and a'. These questions, and other developments, are discussed in detail in Section 8.4.