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Computational Fluid Dynamics

Final Term Project Report

Submitted by: Ashutosh Gautam

The complex commercial computational fluid dynamics software fluent offers a
convenient way to model fluid dynamics problems. This study involved a two
dimensional airfoil NACA 4412. The purpose was to reproduce published or
experimental data for NACA4412 in the subsonic flow regimes in order to become
familiar with fluent, and to establish a verified solution method. We use k-
turbulence model. The results were computed and compared with published or
experimental data. For all of the cases considered, the comparisons showed
excellent agreement among the results, with the predicted section lift coefficients
being within 10% of the measured values.
Advances in computing technology and software have revolutionized the
design process of engineering vehicles such as air craft and automobiles. In
the area of fluid dynamics, there are many commercial computational fluid
dynamics (CFD) packages available for modeling flow in or around objects.
The first step in modeling a problem involves the creation of geometry and
meshes with a preprocessor. GAMBIT is a program that can be employed to
produce models in two and three dimensions, using structured or
unstructured meshes, which can consist of a variety of elements, such as
quadrilateral, triangular or tetrahedral elements. Once a grid has been
developed, a solver, such as, multi-physics FEMLAB and FLUENT, is
employed to solve the governing equations of the problem. In this
investigation FLUENT was employed, which uses a finite volume scheme to
solve the continuity, momentum and energy equations with the associated
boundary conditions. The purpose of this investigation was to become
familiar with GAMBIT and FLUENT, develop a solution method and verify it
with published data for various two dimensional airfoils, in subsonic flow
simulation involved the NACA 4412. The computed solutions were
presented and were shown to compare very well with published data, with
the difference between the predicted and experimental section lift
coefficients being within the set bounds.
Overview of a NACA 4412 Airfoil

An airfoil is defined as the cross section of a body that is placed in an airstream in order to produce a useful
aerodynamic force in the most efficient manner possible. The cross section of wings, propeller blades, windmill
blades, compressor and turbine blades in a jet engine and hydrofoils are examples of airfoils.

The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was a United State federal agency founded on March
3, 1915, to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958, the agency was
dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA). The NACA airfoils are airfoil shapes for aircraft wings developed by NACA. The shape of
the NACA airfoils is described using a series of digits following the word "NACA." The parameters in the numerical
code can be entered into equations to precisely generate the cross-section of the airfoil and calculate its

The geometry of a NACA airfoil is shown below:

Leading edge: The leading edge is the part of the wing that first contacts the air; alternatively it is the foremost
edge of an airfoil section.
Trailing edge: The trailing edge of an aerodynamic surface such as a wing is its rear edge, where the airflow
separated by the leading edge rejoins.
Chord Line: It is a straight line connecting the leading and trailing edges of the airfoil.
Mean Camber Line: It is the locus of points, midway between the upper and lower surfaces. Its exact shape
depends on how the thickness is defined.
Camber: It is the asymmetry between the top and the bottom surfaces of an airfoil. An airfoil that is not
cambered is called a symmetric airfoil. Camber is usually designed into an airfoil to increase the maximum lift
coefficient. This minimizes the stalling speed of aircraft using the airfoil. Aircraft with wings based on cambered
airfoils usually have lower stalling speeds than similar aircraft with wings based on symmetric airfoils. The
camber of an airfoil can be defined by a camber line, which is the curve that is halfway between the upper
( ) and lower ( surfaces of the airfoil. To fully define an airfoil we also need a thickness
function T(x), which describes the thickness of the airfoil at any given point. Then, the upper and lower surfaces
can be defined as follows:
= Z(x) +
= Z(x) +
Chord: it refers to the imaginary straight line joining the trailing edge and the center of curvature of the leading
edge of the cross-section of an airfoil. The chord length is the distance between the trailing edge and the point
on the leading edge where the chord intersects the leading edge. The wing, horizontal stabilizer, vertical
stabilizer and propeller of an aircraft are all based on airfoil sections, and the term chord or chord length is also
used to describe their width. The chord of a wing, stabilizer and propeller is determined by examining the plan
form and measuring the distance between leading and trailing edges in the direction of the airflow.
Standard mean chord: Standard mean chord (SMC) is defined as wing area divided by wing span.
Where, S is the wing area and b is the span of the wing.

Mean aerodynamic chord: Mean aerodynamic chord (MAC) is defined as

Where, y is the coordinate along the wing span and c is the chord at the coordinate y.
MAC is the chord of a rectangular wing, which has the same area, aerodynamic force and position of the center
of pressure at a given angle of attack as the given wing has. In simple words, MAC is the width of an equivalent
rectangular wing in given conditions.
Thickness: The thickness of an airfoil varies along the chord. It may be measured in either of two ways:
1. Thickness measured perpendicular to the camber line (American convention).
2. Thickness measured perpendicular to the chord line (British convention).

The four digit series NACA airfoils have NACA XXXX nomenclature where each digit(X) defines specific
specification of the airfoil. The profile of the airfoil is defined by each digit as follows:

1. First digit describing maximum camber as percentage of the chord.

2. Second digit describing the distance of maximum camber from the airfoil leading edge in tens of
percentages of the chord.
3. Last two digits describing maximum thickness of the airfoil as percent of the chord.
For example, the NACA 4412 airfoil is symmetrical, has a maximum camber of 4% located 40% (0.4 chords) from
the leading edge with a maximum thickness of 12% of the chord (it is 12% as thick as it is long). Four-digit series
airfoils by default have maximum thickness at 30% of the chord (0.3 chords) from the leading edge.
The formula for the shape of a NACA 00XX foil (symmetric foil with no camber), with "XX" being replaced by the
percentage of thickness to chord, is:

( ) ( ) ( )

c is the chord length, x is the position along the chord from 0 to c, y is the half thickness at a given value
of x (centerline to surface), and t is the maximum thickness as a fraction of the chord.
The asymmetric foils NACA 4 digit series foils use the same formula as that used to generate the 00XX symmetric
foils, but with the line of mean camber bent. The formula to find the mean camber line for a cambered 4-digit
NACA airfoil is:

( )
( )

m is the maximum camber, p is the location of maximum camber.

For this cambered airfoil, the coordinates and ( , of respectively the upper and lower airfoil surface,
, ,

To determine the drag coefficients and lift coefficients for different angles of attack and to find the stall angle for
flow of air around a NACA 4412 Airfoil using Fluent and comparing the results with the reliable experimental

Parameters considered :
Flow regime : Subsonic
Fluid : Air
Pressure : 101,325 Pa
Density : 1.2250 kg/
Temperature : 288.16 K
Kinematic Viscosity : 1.4607e-05

Dynamic Viscosity : 1.7893e-05

Free stream velocity : 50 m/s
Flow model : k- turbulence
Mach Number : (Free Stream Velocity)/Speed of Sound = 50/340.29 = 0.1469
Reynolds Number : 34950

We start by generating a mesh in GAMBIT for an airfoil. This mesh can then be read into FLUENT for fluid flow simulation. In
an external flow such as that over an airfoil, we have to define a far-field boundary and mesh the region
between the airfoil geometry and the far-field boundary. We have to place the far-field boundary well
away from the airfoil since we'll use the ambient conditions to define the boundary conditions at the far-field.
The farther we are from the airfoil, the less effect it has on the flow and so more accurate is the far-field boundary
GAMBIT Procedure
We create a new directory called airfoil and start GAMBIT from that directory by typing gambit -id airfoil at the
command prompt. Under Main Menu, select Solver FLUENT 5/6 since the mesh to be created is to be used in
To specify the airfoil geometry, we'll import a file containing a list of vertices along the surface and have GAMBIT
join these vertices to create two edges, corresponding to the upper and lower surfaces of the airfoil. We'll then
split these edges into 4 distinct edges to help us control the mesh size at the surface. The chord length, c for the
geometry is 1. Next, we create the far field boundary by creating vertices and joining them appropriately to form
edges. We create vertices by clicking Operation Tool Pad Geometry Command Button Vertex Command
Button Create Vertex. We create the vertices by entering the coordinates under Global and the label
under Label. Then we create the edges and the arcs by clicking Operation Tool Pad Geometry Command
Button Edge Command Button Create Edge. The edges we created are joined together to form faces. Two
rectangular faces lie to the right of the airfoil. The third face consists of the area outside of the airfoil but inside
of the semi-circular boundary. We create the faces by clicking Operation Tool Pad Geometry Command
Button Face Command Button Form Face. This brings up the Create Face from Wireframe we select edges
in order to form a face.
We mesh each of the 3 faces separately to get our final mesh. Before we mesh a face, we need to define the
point distribution for each of the edges that form the face. We select the mesh stretching parameters and
number of divisions for each edge based on three criteria:

1. We cluster points near the airfoil since this is where the flow is modified the most. The mesh resolution as
we approach the far field boundaries can become progressively coarser since the flow gradients approach
2. Close to the surface, we need the most resolution near the leading and trailing edges since these are
critical areas with the steepest gradients.
3. The transitions in mesh size should be smooth. Large, discontinuous changes in the mesh size would the
mesh size significantly decrease the numerical accuracy significantly decrease the numerical accuracy.

The edge mesh parameters we use for controlling the stretching are successive ratio, first length and last length.
We mesh the edges by selecting Operation Tool Pad Mesh Command Button Edge Command Button
Mesh Edges. We enter a ratio of 1.15 which means that each mesh division will be 1.15 times bigger than the
previous one. We enter 45 for Interval Count. GAMBIT creates 45 intervals on this edge with a successive ratio of
1.15. After the appropriate edge meshes were specified, we meshed the faces by clicking Operation Tool Pad
Mesh Command Button Face Command Button Mesh Faces. Next, we will split the top and bottom edges
of the airfoil into two edges so that we have better control of the mesh point distribution. We do this because we
use a non-uniform grid spacing for x<0.3 and a uniform grid spacing for x>0.3. To split the top edge, we select
Operation Tool Pad Geometry Command Button Edge Command Button Split/Merge Edge. We then
specify the Boundary Types. We label the boundaries as farfield1, farfield2 and the airfoil surface as airfoil. We
create groups of edges and then create boundary entities from these groups. We do that by selecting Operation
Tool Pad Geometry Command Button Group Command Button Create Group. After grouping each of
the edges into the desired groups, we assign appropriate boundary types to these groups by selecting Operation
Tool Pad Zones Command Button Specify Boundary Types. Type of the airfoil surface is Wall. Types of
Farfield1, farfield2 and farfield3 groups are Pressure Far field in each case. We save our work and then export the
mesh by selecting Main Menu File Export Mesh.
FLUENT Procedure
The mesh created in GAMBIT can now be read into FLUENT which will then run the geometry through the
numerical analysis. We open FLUENT and select the 2D double precision operation (2ddp) for two dimensional
operations. The Gambit mesh is read into FLUENT by selecting File Read Case and selecting the mesh file
airfoil.msh. We make certain that the FLUENT window doesn't display any error messages after reading in the
mesh file. First we check the mesh by selecting Grid Check. This conducts a thorough check of the mesh to
make certain no errors are present and the displayed information is consistent with our expectations of the
airfoil grid. Then we analyze the grid by selecting Grid Info Size and see whether the surfaces farfield1, farfield2, etc.
correspond to the right values by selecting and plotting them in turn. We also zoom into the airfoil to see whether the
nodes are clustered at the right places. The solver to be used on the geometry can be changed by going to Define
Models Solver. The solver is pressure based, formulation is implicit, space is 2D, time is Steady, Velocity
formulation is Absolute, Gradient option is Green-Gauss Cell Based and Porous Formulation is Superficial

Then we check that the energy equation is deselected by selecting Define Models Energy.
Next, we set the viscous model by selecting Define Models Viscous.

We use the k-epsilon model. The k- model uses two transport equations to represent the turbulent viscosity. It
is often used in engineering problems since it performs well for a broad range of turbulent flows. Two variants
with better performance are offered in fluent, notably the renormalization group (RNG) and realizable k-
models. The realizable k- model was adopted due to its improved performance in flow areas where vortices and
rotation are present. the C2-epsilon value is 1.9, TKE Prandtl number is 1 and TDR Prandtl number is 1.2. We
select Standard wall functions for the near wall treatment.

The fluid material that is to be used in this analysis is air and the fluid properties can be set by selecting Define

Air should be the default setting. The density of the air is 1.225 kg/ and is constant. The dynamic viscosity is
1.7893e-05 and is also constant. With these values set, we click Change/Create and close the materials
We set the operating conditions next. We do it by selecting Define Operating Condition. This opens a new
window where the operating pressure can be set. The operating pressure is kept at 101325 Pa.

The next step is to set the boundary conditions for the boundaries that were defined in GAMBIT. This is done by
selecting Define Boundary Conditions.

We set farfield1 and farfield2 to the velocity-inlet boundary type. For each, we click Set. Then, we choose components
under Velocity Specification Method a n d s e t t h e x - a n d y - c o m p o n e n t s t o t h a t f o r t h e f r e e
s t r e a m . F o r d i f f e r e n t a n g l e s o f a t t a c k ( A O A ) , t h e x a n y y components would be different, for
example, for angle of attack 1.2, x-component is 50*Cos(1.2) and y-component is 50*Sin(1.2). We set farfield3 to
pressure-outlet boundary type and set the Gauge Pressure at this boundary to 0.
We can now set the solution controls. We do that by first selecting Solve Control Solution. The solution
relaxation for each parameter can be changed in this window. Generally the only time these relaxation
parameters need to be changed is if repetitive oscillations begins to occur on the coefficient of lift and drag plots.
The discretization schemes can be modified. We change the pressure discretization value to Presto and
momentum to second order upwind and leave all the other values set to their default settings.

Next we initialize the solver by selecting Solve Initialize Initialize. In the compute from dropdown list we
choose farfield1. This will automatically insert values into all 40 the remaining text boxes in this window. These
values correspond to the farfield1 boundary settings. We select Init and then close the window.
Next we need to set the convergence criteria by setting the residual values. We do this by selecting Solve
Monitors Residual. The minimum convergence criterion should be set to 1x10-6 for each residual.

In order to directly monitor the lift coefficient being experienced by the airfoil, we select Solve Monitor
Force. With the force monitors window open we select lift for the coefficient to be monitored. Under options we
check the print and plot boxes and for wall zones we select the airfoil profile. The lift is the force perpendicular to
the direction of the free stream. We have to set the force vectors corresponding to the angle of attack for which
the model is going to be calculated. For example, for an angle of attack of 10 the x-force vector should have a
value of -sin(10) = -0.17365 and a y-force vector of cos(10) = 0.9848.

Similarly, we set the Force Monitor options for the Drag force. The drag is defined as the force component
in the direction of the free stream. So under Force Vector, for the above case, we set x-force
vector to Cos (10) = 0.9848 and y-force vector to Sin (10) = 0.1736. We turn on only Print for it.
Next, we set the reference values. All force monitor calculations for the model will use these values. We select
Report Reference Values. In the compute from dropdown menu we select farfield1 and for reference zone we
select fluid. While this will set most of the reference values correctly, the actual dimensions of the airfoil
geometry have to be set independently. Since the chord length of this procedure is one meter and the depth is
one meter, the default values are correct. From dropdown menu we select farfield1 and for reference zone we
select fluid. We have to note that the reference pressure is zero, indicating that we are measuring gauge

Now our model is ready to be solved. We save the case file before we start the iterations by selecting File Write Case. To
solve, we select Solve Iterate. Since convergence criteria were defined, we have to choose a relatively large
number of iterations to make certain a solution has time to converge. We set the number of iterations to 650,
1000 and 2000 for different angles of attack. We leave the other values in this window at their default values.
We begin the iteration process by selecting iterate. Once the model finishes iterating we check the accuracy of
the results.
Lift Coefficient Plots for various Angles of Attacks

Angle of Attack: 0 Angle of Attack: 1.2

Angle of Attack: 4 Angle of Attack: 6

Angle of Attack: 8 Angle of Attack: 10

Angle of Attack: 11 Angle of Attack: 12

Angle of Attack: 13 Angle of Attack: 14

Angle of Attack: 15 Angle of Attack: 16

Angle of Attack: 17 Angle of Attack: 18

Scaled Residuals

Angle of Attack: 0 Angle of Attack: 1.2

Angle of Attack: 4 Angle of Attack: 6

Angle of Attack: 8 Angle of Attack: 10

Angle of Attack: 11 Angle of Attack: 12

Angle of Attack: 13 Angle of Attack: 14

Angle of Attack: 15 Angle of Attack: 16

Angle of Attack: 17 Angle of Attack: 18

Velocity Vectors for different Angles of Attack

Angle of Attack: 0

Angle of Attack: 1.2

Angle of Attack: 4

Angle of Attack: 6
Angle of Attack: 8

Angle of Attack:10

Angle of Attack: 12

Angle of Attack: 13
Angle of Attack: 14

Angle of Attack: 15

Angle of Attack: 16

Angle of Attack: 18
Simulation Results at the Stall Angle

1. Static Pressure:
2. Pressure Coefficient:
3. Dynamic Pressure:
4. Total Pressure:
5. Velocity Magnitude:
6. Velocity Vectors:
7. X-Velocity:
8. Y-Velocity:
9. Residuals:

10. Lift Coefficient:

11. Drag Coefficient:

12. Stream Function:

13. X-Y Plots:

13.1. Static Pressure:


Default Interior:
Far field 1:

Far Field 2:
13.2. Pressure Coefficient:


Default Interior:
Far Field 1:

Far Field 2:
The graphs for lift coefficients for various angles of attack were plotted.

S. No Angle of Attack Iteration Continuity X-Velocity Y-Velocity k Epsilon Lift Coefficient Drag Coefficient
1 0 650 2.58E-04 6.94E-08 5.04E-08 4.75E-08 4.96E-08 0.5633 0.0107
2 4 650 2.35E-04 6.95E-08 5.36E-08 3.99E-08 5.10E-08 0.9763 0.0133
3 6 650 2.05E-04 7.06E-08 4.56E-08 5.24E-08 5.15E-08 1.1743 0.0154
4 8 650 1.78E-04 6.90E-08 4.98E-08 5.14E-08 5.32E-08 1.3636 0.0181
5 10 650 1.49E-04 7.10E-08 5.11E-08 3.69E-08 4.02E-08 1.5374 0.0212
6 11 650 1.37E-04 6.96E-08 5.00E-08 5.45E-08 4.64E-08 1.6170 0.0232
7 12 650 1.29E-04 6.99E-08 4.86E-08 5.36E-08 6.30E-08 1.6805 0.0254
8 13 650 1.19E-04 7.07E-08 4.93E-08 4.93E-08 5.61E-08 1.7535 0.0278
9 14 650 1.11E-04 7.28E-08 5.16E-08 1.36E-07 4.52E-08 1.8045 0.0309
10 15 650 1.07E-04 9.08E-08 6.12E-08 6.92E-07 4.79E-08 1.8372 0.0346
11 16 1000 7.92E-03 1.38E-05 7.89E-06 2.54E-03 7.10E-06 1.8417 0.0385
12 17 1000 1.72E-02 4.85E-05 2.82E-05 6.33E-03 1.10E-05 1.8467 0.0558
13 18 1000 2.53E-02 8.95E-05 5.30E-05 9.85E-03 1.28E-05 1.8816 0.0683

Lift Coefficient v/s Angle of Attack

2.0000 1.8816
1.8000 1.6805
1.6000 1.5374


Lift Coefficient






0 4 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Angle of Attack ()
The results did not match with the reference experimental data. To increase the accuracy of the model, the number of
cells that exist around the airfoil surface has to be increased. To do that, we select Adapt Boundary. Adapting
the cells around the boundary of the airfoil geometry breaks each of the boundary cells into four cells resulting in
a denser mesh. Under boundary zones we select airfoil and we click the mark button. A note pops up in the main
FLUENT window indicating the number of cells to be adapted. To adapt these cells we simply click the adapt
button in the boundary adapt window and select ok in the adapt warning window. After the adapt process is
complete the main FLUENT window prints out the results of the adapting process. Now that the mesh is denser
the model is reinitialized and then we repeat the iteration process.

We adapted the mesh for angles of attack greater than and equal to 12 and plotted the graph of lift coefficient
for different angles of attack.

S. No Angle of Attack Iteration Continuity X-Velocity Y-Velocity k Epsilon Lift Coefficient Drag Coefficient
6 12a 1000 1.45E-04 7.18E-08 5.66E-08 4.99E-08 5.37E-08 1.6460 0.0269
7 13a 2000 1.31E-04 6.95E-08 5.33E-08 5.24E-08 5.45E-08 1.7073 0.0299
8 14a 2000 1.21E-04 7.12E-08 5.39E-08 5.23E-08 4.95E-08 1.7434 0.0336
9 14.5a 2000 1.20E-04 7.01E-08 5.13E-08 5.07E-08 4.78E-08 1.7487 0.0358
10 14.6a 2000 1.18E-04 7.08E-08 5.21E-08 1.69E-07 6.33E-08 1.7540 0.0363
11 14.7a 2000 1.61E-04 1.22E-07 8.27E-08 1.30E-05 8.80E-08 1.7548 0.0366
12 14.8a 2000 2.77E-03 3.48E-06 1.98E-06 7.59E-04 1.78E-06 1.7546 0.0367
13 14.9a 2000 5.68E-03 7.12E-06 4.17E-06 1.54E-03 3.96E-06 1.7545 0.0362
14 15a 2000 7.29E-03 9.99E-06 5.82E-06 2.00E-03 4.50E-06 1.7520 0.0359
15 15.5a 2000 1.29E-02 1.97E-05 1.14E-05 3.38E-03 7.99E-06 1.7508 0.0363
16 16a 2000 1.80E-02 3.33E-05 1.91E-05 4.63E-03 9.98E-06 1.7507 0.0363
17 17a 2000 2.66E-02 6.95E-05 4.06E-05 7.04E-03 1.18E-05 1.7234 0.0408
18 18a 2000 2.92E-02 1.16E-04 7.05E-05 1.30E-02 1.59E-05 1.7012 0.0964
19 20a 2000 3.76E-02 1.73E-04 1.20E-04 1.40E-02 2.10E-05 1.5961 0.1040
Lift Coefficient v/s Angle of Attack (after adaptation)





Lift Coefficient






0 4 6 8 10 11 12a 13a 14a 15a 16a 17a 18a 20a
Angles of Attack ()
Lift Coefficient v/s Angle of Attack
1.7550E+00 1.7546 1.7545
1.7545E+00 1.7540
1.7525E+00 1.7520
Lift Coefficient

1.7490E+00 1.7487

14a 14.5a 14.6a 14.7a 14.8a 14.9a 15a
Angle of Attack ()

The comparisons showed excellent agreement among the results with the predicted section lift coefficients. Lift
coefficient curve has stall angle 14.7 in simulation and 14 in experimental data, thus the error is 5% which is
within the accuracy bounds. The lift force decreases after stall angle. In aircraft application if the lift coefficient
increases with increase in attack angle over stall angle that represents danger.
1. Abbott, I.H., and Von Doenhoff, A.E., Theory of Wing Sections: Including a Summary of Airfoil Data, Dover
Publications, Inc., New York, USA, 1959.

2. Daniel Norrison and Eddie, Fluent Simulation of Airflow around Airfoil, RMIT University, Australia, 2006.

3. David Heffley, Aerodynamic Characteristics of a NACA 4412 Airfoil, Baylor University, 2007.

4. Shan, H; Jiang, L; Liu, CQ, Direct numerical simulation of flow separation around a NACA 0012 airfoil, Nov