The influence of leading-edge tubercles on wake flow dynamics of a marine rudder

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The impact of two tubercle leading-edge (TLE) modifications on the turbulent wake of a representative marine rudder at Reynolds number 2.26×106 was analysed numerically using Detached-Eddy Simulations. TLE have been shown to alter the flow profile over aero/hydrofoils through the generation of streamwise counter-rotating vortex pairs behind the tubercles, which can enhance the lifting performance. This paper studies the formation of these vortex pairs and their impact on the wake structures behind the rudder to find out if vortex interaction
can reduce the tip vortex. The tubercles enhanced lift for angles of attack (AOA) 10º and above, but at the cost of a large drag penalty that reduced the rudders' lift-to-drag ratio. The formation of the distinctive streamwise counter-rotating vortex pairs behind the tubercles was shown. Due to the inherent spanwise flow component of finite-span lifting surfaces the vortices were generated at unequal strength and only positive vortices were maintained in the wake. The vortices facilitated flow compartmentalisation over the rudder suction side which broke up the trailing-edge vortex sheet and confined the spanwise flow separation over the rudder surface as AOA increased. The tubercles confined flow separation closer to the rudder tip which caused a tip-offloading effect that minimised the initial tip vortex strength. Large elements of streamwise counter-rotating vorticity formed around the localised stall cells of the TLE rudders that interacted with the tip vortex downstream, introducing elliptical instabilities further weakening the tip vortex and changing its trajectory.
Original languageEnglish
Article number211
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Conference on Computational Methods in Marine Engineering (MARINE)
Issue numberISO2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022
Event9th International Conference on Computational Methods in Marine Engineering: MARINE 2021 - Online
Duration: 2 Jun 20214 Jun 2021


  • rudders
  • biomimetic design
  • leading-edge tubercles
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • tip vortex
  • vortex interaction


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