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Activity title

Plasma Based Flow Control for Performance and Control of Military Vehicles

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Applied Vehicle Technology

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Awaiting Publication

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Plasma Flow Control


Plasma Flow Control (PFC) is a revolutionary approach to improve NATO air and sea vehicle performance, stability and control. Towards this end, a variety of plasma generation methods have been investigated that include Dielectric Barrier Discharge (DBD), Direct Current (DC) and High Frequency (HF) discharge, and laser and microwave discharges. PFC is applicable to subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic vehicles. The ability to accurately predict plasma actuated force and moment changes on air and sea vehicles using combined Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Computational Magneto Gas- and Hydrodynamics (CMGD and CMHD) could revolutionize vehicle configuration design, performance, stability and control for NATO sea and air vehicles. However, detailed validation of computational methods is lacking for the range of potential fluids, speed, and altitude applications of PFC. Moreover, reduced-order models are needed to enable rapid identification of requirements for successful designs (e.g., force and flow changes, power and weight requirements). RTO is uniquely qualified to organize a multi-national NATO effort to validate computational methods for evaluating PFC. An RTO Task Group will establish a coherent multi-national effort to establish a common experimental database, define specific evaluation criteria, assess current predictive capabilities and encourage further development of new computational methods for PFC. This Task Group builds up on the work of AVT-ET-105.


Establish a common database of experimental data for Plasma Flow Control using for example 1) Dielectric Barrier Discharge, 2) Microwave and combined microwave-laser discharge, and 3) Direct Current and High Frequency surface discharge. Define a matrix of test cases within the experimental database for validation of computational models. Establish a multi-national team of participants to compute the test cases. Evaluate the results of the computations to identify modeling strengths and weaknesses.


The Task Group will focus on one or more of the following topics: The first topic is Dielectric Barrier Discharges (DBD). These devices have been widely investigated experimentally due to the relative simplicity of construction and operation. The second topic is microwave and combined microwave-laser plasma generation for flow control. Research in this area has been underway for several decades, principally in the United States and Russia (including the former Soviet Union). Microwave discharges are relatively simple to generate, and offer potential scalability to practical vehicle configurations. Microwave discharges can be on or off-surface. The third topic is DC and HF discharges. This methodology is a surface-fixed technique (similar to DBD), and capable of large energy addition to the flow near the surface.

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