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By

Aaron Crawford, Anne Holmes, Majd Salameh, Badr Alajmi

ENME 3070L

CRN: 47425

Date: 11/26/2018

Instructor: Don C. Warrington

I. Objective

The objective of this lab is to determine the coefficients of lift and drag of a Nerf football

(Sports Vortex Aero Howler) in the UTC wind tunnel. Additionally, we will describe the

relationship of these coefficients to the Reynolds number, Mach number, and angle of attack.

II. Theory

When an object is placed in a flowing fluid, there are several forces that act on the object

(Figure 1). Drag is a force that acts on the object tangential to the direction of flow and is a result

of the pressure applied across the surface of the object. Lift is another force that acts normal to

the direction of the flow and is caused by the pressure forces on the object. The objects that

experience lift do so because the object is asymmetrical in one or more directions, unlike a

sphere which has omnidirectional symmetry.

Figure 1. Airplane mounted in a wind tunnel and the forces acting on the plane body.

Source: [3]

To study these forces, a wind tunnel is often used to simulate the effects of air flow of

various speeds. Objects are mounted inside of the wind tunnel and can be angled vertically

against the air flow - also known as the angle of attack (α in Figure 1). Wind tunnels are an

excellent tool for testing scale models of vehicles or aircrafts before the fully-sized product is

manufactured.

When considering flow over an object Newton created the following formula to describe

the drag:

F d = C * A * ρ * u2 (Eq 1)

Where F d is the force of drag, C is a constant, A is the cross-sectional area of the object,

ρ is the density of the fluid, and u is the velocity of the fluid. This equation does not account for

the viscosity of a fluid, thus, it is only partially accurate in determining the drag force [1].

The Mach number is also considered when determining drag. The Mach number is the

ratio of the speed of the object relative to the speed of sound in the fluid. The speed of sound can

be calculated using the following equation:

u(sonic) = √k * R * T (Eq 2)

Where k is the ideal gas constant, R is the gas constant, and T is the absolute temperature

[1]. After many years of development, the drag equation does not look much different from its

early stages. By incorporating the Mach number, Reynolds number, and fluid viscosity, the

modern equation for drag is as follows:

ρ*u2

F d = Cd * A * 2

(Eq 3)

Where C d is the coefficient of drag, and A is the projectional area of the object

perpendicular to the fluid flow [1].

Wind tunnels and computational fluid dynamics have become the leading methods for

testing small scale models before building full scale versions. The results of these methods can

be related to full scale model values using principles of dynamic similarity. Dynamic similarity

relies on the constants of the reynolds number of an object apart from its size. When the

devivation is worked out we find that the following is true:

Inertial f orce p*u*D

F rictional F orce = μ = Re (Eq 4)

Where μ is the viscosity, p is the density, u is the velocity, and D is the size of the object.

This relationship allows for the scaling of forces based on the scaling of size.

While drag as previously mentioned is based on pressure forces on a symmetrical body,

lift forces occur from the same forces when the object is not symmetrical and the pressure forces

are unequal. Lift allows airplanes to take off and fly due to the shape of the wing. Similar to the

equation for drag, the equation for the lift force on an object is as follows:

ρ*u2

F l = Cl * A * 2

(Eq 5)

With F l being the lift force and C l being the coefficient of lift. In testing airfoils,

dynamic similarity can be applied to relate a scale model to its full-sized application. The lift

force on an airfoil is a function of the angle of attack. As the angle of attack increases, the lift

increases until maximum lift is reached. This is called the stall point, where the force of lift no

longer helps to keep the object in the air.

III. Procedure

Before the Nerf football (Figure 2) could be tested in the wind tunnel, the mounting rod

had to be inserted into the tail of the football. Since the football has a long-distance tail, the rod

was inserted at a slight angle to be as close to the center of the tail as possible.

1) The mounting rod was inserted into the ball just below the tail.

2) The football was secured to the post inside the wind tunnel

3) The wind tunnel was closed and turned on.

4) Using the computer controls, the wind tunnel speed was increased to approximately

20-25 mph to test the football’s performance at a lower speed and the quality of the

mount. The speed was then increased to 30 MPH and the initial angle of attack was 0

degrees.

5) The digital (actual) wind speed was recorded, and forces of lift and drag were recorded.

6) The angle of attack was increased in increments of 2 degrees, and force readings were

taken at each angle of attack until the object has progressed past the “stall” angle.

7) The speed was then increased to 50 MPH.

8) Steps 5-6 were repeated for the higher speed of 50 MPH.

9) The coefficient of lift and the coefficient of drag were calculated.

10) The Reynolds number was calculated for each speed using the provided website [4].

11) A plot of the coefficient of drag and the coefficient of lift versus the angle of attack for

each speed was made. The stall point was identified on each of the graphs.

12) These plots were compared to those from the proposal report (for the airfoil and the golf

ball) and comparisons were made.

Figure 4. Nerf football mounted at 0 degrees in the wind tunnel, air speeds are low -

approximately 10 MPH.

Figure 6. Nerf football mounted at highest angle of attack, 22 degrees, with wind speed

at 30 MPH.

IV. Observed Data/Object Dimensions

Football Info

Area w/o tail* ( f t2 ) 0.10636

2

Area with tail ( f t ) 0.17927

3

Density of Air ( lb/ f t ) 0.07647

Effective length (ft) 1.0

Area of the football was approximated using the area of an ellipse ( area = Π * a * b ).

The tail area was approximated using simple rectangle and triangle shapes. The effective length

of the object was measured from the tip of the ball to the tail of the dart of the football.

Table 2. Observed data of drag and lift forces on Nerf football in wind tunnel at 30 MPH

Theoretical Wind Actual Wind

Angle of Attack (°) Lift (lbs) Drag (lbs)

Speed (MPH) Speed (MPH)

30 30.3 0 0 0.06

30 30.3 2 0.02 0.06

30 30.3 4 0.02 0.055

30 30.3 6 0.03 0.055

30 30.3 8 0.04 0.06

30 30.3 10 0.05 0.06

30 30.3 12 0.06 0.07

30 30.3 14 0.06 0.075

30 30.3 16 0.08 0.08

30 30.3 18 0.08 0.085

30 30.3 20 0.1 0.095

30 30.3 22 0.12 0.11

Table 3. Observed data of drag and lift forces on Nerf football in wind tunnel at 50 MPH

Theoretical Wind Actual Wind

Angle of Attack (°) Lift (lbs) Drag (lbs)

Speed (MPH) Speed (MPH)

50 47.6 0 0 0.13

50 47.6 2 0.01 0.13

50 47.6 4 0.04 0.125

50 47.6 6 0.06 0.135

50 47.6 8 0.08 0.135

50 47.6 10 0.1 0.14

50 47.6 12 0.14 0.145

50 47.6 14 0.18 0.156

50 47.6 16 0.22 0.18

50 47.6 18 0.24 0.2

50 47.6 20 0.28 0.25

50 47.6 22 0.32 0.25

Table 4. Drag and lift coefficients, Reynolds number, and Mach number for the tested airspeed

of 30.3 mph.

Football Observed Values Football Calculated Values

Air Speed 1: Lift (lb) Drag (lb) Angle (◦) Drag Coeff. Lift Coeff.

30.3 MPH 0 0.06 0 0.14271 0.0000

= 44.44 ft/s 0.02 0.06 2 0.14271 0.0476

0.02 0.055 4 0.13082 0.0476

Reynolds #: 0.03 0.055 6 0.13082 0.0714

278,098.98 0.04 0.06 8 0.14271 0.0951

0.05 0.06 10 0.14271 0.1189

Mach #: 0.06 0.07 12 0.16650 0.1427

0.0398 0.06 0.075 14 0.17839 0.1427

0.08 0.08 16 0.19028 0.1903

0.08 0.085 18 0.20218 0.1903

0.1 0.095 20 0.22596 0.2379

0.12 0.11 22 0.26164 0.2854

Table 5. Drag and lift coefficients, Reynolds number, and Mach number for the tested airspeed

of 47.6 mph.

Football Observed Values Football Calculated Values

Air Speed 2: Lift (lb) Drag (lb) Angle (◦) Drag Coeff. Lift Coeff.

47.6 MPH 0 0.13 0 0.12534 0.0000

= 69.8 ft/s 0.01 0.13 2 0.12534 0.0096

0.04 0.125 4 0.12052 0.0386

Reynolds #: 0.06 0.135 6 0.13016 0.0578

436,798.13 0.08 0.135 8 0.13016 0.0771

0.1 0.14 10 0.13498 0.0964

Mach #: 0.14 0.145 12 0.13980 0.1350

0.0626 0.18 0.156 14 0.15041 0.1735

0.22 0.18 16 0.17355 0.2121

0.24 0.2 18 0.19283 0.2314

0.28 0.25 20 0.24104 0.2700

0.32 0.25 22 0.24104 0.3085

For the two speeds that were analyzed, the coefficients of lift and drag increase as the

angle of attack increases. For all angles of attack, except one, the coefficient of drag values for

the airspeed 47.6 mph is lower than the coefficient of drag values for the airspeed 30.3 mph. This

is anticipated since the wake of the flowing air is resolved sooner for higher speeds. In other

words, the wake of the air flow is thinner at higher speeds creating less drag (Figure 8).

We noticed an interesting pattern regarding the lift coefficients that occurs before and

after an angle of attack of 14 degrees. For the lower speed (30.3 MPH), the coefficient of lift

values were greater than those for the higher speed (47.6 MPH) before an angle of 14 degrees.

After 14 angles, this changes and the coefficient of lift values for the higher speed were greater

than those for the lower speed. It is unclear as to why this occurred, but we theorize that 14

degrees may be a critical angle for the Nerf football. The throwing angle for maximum range is

45 degrees, so perhaps the Nerf football is designed to provide more lift at greater throwing

angles (closer to 45 degrees) to increase its ability to be thrown a long distance.

Figure 8. Comparison of wake size for two spherical objects. This occurs similarly with

the Nerf football where the top drawing represents a lower air speed, and the bottom drawing

represents a higher air speed. [5]

Figure 4. Coefficient of drag and lift vs. angle of attack at 30.3 MPH. Blue markers indicate the

drag coefficient, and red markers indicate the lift coefficient at each angle of attack.

It can be observed from the graph above, Figure 4, that both the lift and drag coefficients

are increasing as the angle of attack increases. At 0 degrees angle of attack, the coefficient of lift

is zero, and the coefficient of drag starts at 0.14271. The slope of the lift coefficient curve is

much steeper than that for the drag coefficient curve. At 10 degrees, the slope of the drag

coefficient curve begins to increase until both plots end at similar values of 0.2854 and 0.26164.

A stall angle was not reached for this speed due to equipment constraints. The largest angle that

could be tested with this wind tunnel was 22 degrees, and the Nerf football needs a greater angle

at the given speed to stall.

Figure 5. Coefficient of drag and lift vs. angle of attack at 47.6 MPH. Blue markers indicate the

drag coefficient, and red markers indicate the lift coefficient at each angle of attack.

For the higher speed of 47.6 MPH, the coefficient of drag does not start at zero, and the

slope of the plot is relatively constant up to an angle of attack of 14° (Figure 5). After 14

degrees, the slope of the drag coefficient plot starts to increase. For both speeds, the results

follow the expected trend: the drag coefficient will increase as angle of attack is increased. The

coefficient of lift starts at zero and increases at a relatively constant rate. Just after 21 degrees,

the coefficient of lift exceeds the coefficient of drag for the remainder of the plot. As with the

lower speed, a stall angle was not reached for 47.6 MPH due to equipment constraints. The Nerf

football needs a greater angle at the given speed to stall.

VI. Conclusion

This test was successful in calculating the coefficient of lift and coefficient of drag for

different angles of attack and air velocity. As shown in Table 2 and 3, the coefficients were

calculated for each speed and angle of attack. The maximum drag coefficients are 0.24 and 0.26

for the given speeds of 30.3 MPH and 47.6 MPH, respectively. The maximum lift coefficients

are 0.28 and 0.31 for the respective speeds. Air flows in a wind tunnel over and under the wings.

It is due to the shape of the wing, the pressure exerted on the top is lower than the pressure on the

bottom, creating lift. Then the lift coefficient increases with the increase of attacking angle and

speed of air.

This test was unsuccessful in determining the stall angle for the football. For both

speeds, the maximum allowable angle of attack (22 degrees) was tested but was not great enough

to cause the object to stall. The lift force did not decrease meaning a maximum angle was not

reached. If the testing apparatus was capable of tilting the Nerf football at higher angles, it is

likely the angle of stall could be found.The shape of objects which will under observation can

also push them closer to the ground rather than lift them up, like the airfoil also called a spoiler

on a car. The way the air travels over the car and airfoil force air over the car, adding additional

pressure (and thus force) downward. Racing cars use this to make tight turns without flipping or

skidding.

Some of the sources of error in this test come from the age of the equipment. Since the

values for lift and drag are read on analog dials, there could be systematic error in the accuracy

of the needles. There is also uncertainty associated with reading the values, and there is random

uncertainty.

This data is useful for several reasons, including that Nerf sports could use this data in

designing other footballs. They could create footballs that have less drag and therefore fly

further distances. This data also could be used to validate a computational fluid dynamics model.

By validating a computer based model, it would remove the need to test similar objects in a wind

tunnel. Additional experiments for determining coefficients of drag and lift on similar objects

would be more efficient.

If this experiment were to be repeated, a different/newer wind tunnel should be used.

This would allow us to test higher wind speeds and greater angles of attack. Additionally, a

newer wind tunnel with digital measuring devices would most likely improve the accuracy of the

results.

VII. Sample of Calculations:

Given data of this experiment is:

Football Info

Area w/o tail* 0.10636

(ft2)

Area with tail 0.17927

(ft2)

Density of Air 0.07647

(lb/ft3)

Effective length 12 in

Ø Drag coefficient:

Where is the coefficient of drag, and A is the projectional area of the object

perpendicular to the fluid flow.

Here A= 0.17927 ft2 , density=0.07647 (lb/ft^3), u= 30.3 MPH

Reynolds No. =278,098.98, Mach No. =0.0398

For 0.06 lb

Then 0.14271

Reynolds No. =436,798.13, Mach No. =0.0626, u= 47.6 MPH

For 0.13 lb

Then 0.12534

Ø Lift coefficient:

Here A= 0.17927 ft2 , 0.07647 (), u= 30.3 MPH

Reynolds No. =278,098.98, Mach No. =0.0398

For 0.02 lb

Then 0.0476

Reynolds No. =436,798.13, Mach No. =0.0626, u= 47.6 MPH

For 0.01 lb

Then 0.0096

VII. References

[1] Don C. Warrington; Lift, Drag and Wind Tunnel Testing.

https://chetaero.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/wind-tunnel-testing.pdf, accessed

11/25/2018. Page 2-9.

[2] Don C. Warrington;Wind Tunnel Testing.

https://utclearn.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-589989-dt-content-rid-26165821_1/cou

rses/FA18.ENME.3070.47425/Fluid%20Mechanics%20Lab%208%20Handout%281%2

9.pdf, accessed 11/25/2018. Page 1-6.

[3] Glenn Research Center; Force Balance Coordinates,

https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/tunbalaxes.html, accessed 11/25/18.

[4] Don C. Warrington; Standard Atmosphere Computations.

http://paludavia.com/tamwave/atmos/, accessed 11/25/2018.

[5] Unknown; In laminar or turbulent flow, where will be the greater form,

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-0a86da8f799bd44a3a29bb6734bae202-c accessed

11/26/18.

Appendix

Coefficient of Drag Sample Calculation

2F D 2 * 0.06 lbf * 32.2 f t/sec2

CD = ρu2 A = ft 2

0.0764 lbm

f t3 *

(44.44 s ) * 0.17927 f t2

C D = 0.14271

*These values are taken from Table 2 α = 2 degrees

2F l 2 * 0.02 lbs * 32.2 f t/sec2

Cl = ρu2 A = lbs ft 2 2

0.0764 f t3 * (44.44 s ) * 0.17927 f t

C l = 0.0476

*These values are taken from Table 2 α = 2 degrees

Reynolds numbers were computed using the calculator found in Reference [4].

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