Experimental and computational investigation of drag reduction by electric-arc airspikes at Mach 10

C. S. Hartley, T. W. Portwood, M. V. Filippelli, L. N. Myrabo, H. T. Nagamatsu, M. N. Shneider, Y. P. Razier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


Aerodynamic drag reduction effects of an on-axis electric-arc airspike have been investigated in Mach 10 flow using RPI's 24-inch Hypersonic Shock Tunnel (HST). The long-range purpose of this study is to examine the feasibility of airspike-augmented flight for future transatmospheric vehicles. The research objective was to characterize airspike phenomena as a function of input arc power (0 to 50-kW) for a 6-inch diameter blunt-body with a fixed arc-to-forebody separation of 6.38 inches. An array of lead-acid batteries supplied power for the self-sustaining discharge. The joint experimental/ numerical investigation began with the acquisition of a substantial experimental database - against which CFD simulations could be calibrated. The results correlated very well. The HST tests were conducted under low enthalpy, 'ideal gas' conditions with a stagnation pressure of 260-psia and total temperature of 560-K. A fast response PCB accelerometer measured drag forces on the blunt-body model during 1-5 ms of 'unrestrained' motion; the model was loosely suspended by four wires. Luminosity photographs of each test were recorded on 35-mm film and Digital Video (DV) to document the airspike's hypersonic flow structure. The CFD investigation modeled the airspike-equipped blunt body under identical flow conditions, assuming an arc-to-body gap of one vehicle diameter. Results from both experimental data and CFD predictions indicate a 60-70% reduction in drag force compared with the blunt body, power-off case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBEAMED ENERGY PROPULSION
Subtitle of host publicationThird International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion
Number of pages15
StatePublished - Apr 27 2005
Event3rd International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion - Troy, NY, United States
Duration: Oct 11 2004Oct 14 2004

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Conference3rd International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityTroy, NY

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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