Design, validation, and testing of a hot-film anemometer for hypersonic flow

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Eric F. Spina


turbulence, Aerospace materials, Fluid dynamics, Gases

Subject Categories

Mechanical Engineering


The application of constant-temperature hot-film anemometry to hypersonic flow has been reviewed and extended in this thesis. The objective of this investigation was to develop a measurement tool capable of yielding continuous, high-bandwidth, quantitative, normal mass-flux and total-temperature measurements in moderate-enthalpy environments. This research has produced a probe design that represents a significant advancement over existing designs, offering the following improvements: (1) a five-fold increase in bandwidth; (2) true stagnation-line sensor placement; (3) a two order-of-magnitude decrease in sensor volume; and (4) over a 70% increase in maximum film temperature. These improvements were achieved through substrate design, sensor placement, the use of high-temperature materials, and state-of-the-art microphotolithographic fabrication techniques.

The experimental study to characterize the probe was performed in four different hypersonic wind tunnels at NASA-Langley Research Center. The initial test consisted of traversing the hot film through a Mach 6, flat-plate, turbulent boundary layer in air. The detailed static-calibration measurements that followed were performed in two different hypersonic flows: a Mach 11 helium flow and Mach 6 air flow. The final test of this thesis consisted of traversing the probe through the Mach 6 wake of a 70$\sp\circ$ blunt body. The goal of this test was to determine the state (i.e., laminar or turbulent) of the wake.

These studies indicate that substrate conduction effects result in instrumentation characteristics that prevent the hot-film anemometer from being used as a quantitative tool. The extension of this technique to providing quantitative information is dependent upon the development of lower thermal-conductivity substrate materials. However, the probe durability, absence of strain gauging, and high bandwidth represent significant improvements over the hot-wire technique for making qualitative measurements. Potential uses for this probe are: frequency identification for resonant flows, transition studies, turbulence detection for quiet-tunnel development and reattaching turbulent shear flows, and qualitative turbulence studies of shock-wave/turbulent boundary layer interactions.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.