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Polygence Scholar2022
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Dev Thawani

Salem High SchoolClass of 2023Canton, MI



  • "NACA Airfoil Optimization of Lift to Drag Ratio by Manipulation of Variables" with mentor Christopher (Oct. 12, 2022)

Project Portfolio

NACA Airfoil Optimization of Lift to Drag Ratio by Manipulation of Variables

Started June 30, 2022

Abstract or project description

The lift to drag ratio of an airfoil (2D) or wing (3D) is an important aerodynamic quantity when analyzing the performance of said device. For example, operating at the maximum lift/drag ratio while in steady flight reduces the total drag to a minimum and the lift/drag ratio determines an aircraft's glide ratio and glide range. For this project, we will be comparing the performance of different NACA airfoil designations in terms of lift/drag ratio, assuming steady, level flight. This will be achieved through a trade study focusing on optimizing the shape of an airfoil to achieve the maximum lift/drag ratio at the given conditions. With these results, we will then focus on comparing the 'best' theoretical airfoil design to airfoils which are actually utilized on modern aircraft, highlighting differences between the two while analyzing the reasons these differences arise (e.g. looking at more than just one regime of flight).

To deeper understand what variables would optimize the lift/drag ratio, we will design a base airfoil with a relatively high ratio and then continue to manipulate the other variables. (e.g. angle of attack, Reynold's number, camber line, thickness, etc. . .) Based on those findings, we will create our 'best' airfoil and report back what variables greatest affect the ratio.

If time allows, we will also begin looking into more complex aerodynamic phenomena (e.g. twisting forces and/or the causes of left turning tendencies) and performing the same type of optimization to minimize/maximize these forces, comparing them to existing airfoils as well.