Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Hui Hu


Unmanned aerial system (UAS) is a hot topic in both industry and academia fields. As a popular planform, the rotary-wing system gains more attentions. The small UAS propeller is the most important component in this system, which transfers electric energy into kinetic energy to accomplish fly missions.

In the present work, several experimental studies have been performed to investigate the aerodynamic and aeroacoustic characteristics of small UAS propellers. First of all, by conducting force and flow filed measurements, the unsteady dynamic thrust and the wake structure of the propeller has been studied to explore the fundamental physics to help researchers and engineers to obtain a better understanding. Secondly, two kinds of bio-inspired the propellers have been designed and manufactured. Through a set of force, sound, and flow filed measurements, the aerodynamic and aeroacoustic performance of these propellers has been compared to the baseline propeller to evaluate the effects of aerodynamic efficiency and noise attenuation. It was found that the serrated trailing edge propeller could reduce the turbulent trailing edge noise up to 2 dB, and the maple seed inspired propeller could reduce the noise up to 4 dB with no effect on the aerodynamic performance. In addition, since the rotary-wing system consists more than one propeller, the rotor to rotor interaction on the aerodynamic and aeroacoustic performance also has been studied. By enlarging the separation distance between two propellers, the thrust fluctuation and noise generation could be restricted. Not only the design of the device itself has effect on the flying performance, the extreme weather also would affect it. Therefore, an icing research study on the small UAS propeller has been conducted to illustrate how does the ice formed on the propeller and how does the icing influence the aerodynamics performance and power consumption.

During these experimental studies, the force measurements were achieved by a high sensitive force and moment transducer (JR3 load cell), which had a precision of ±0.1N (± 0.25% of the full range). The sound measurements were conducted inside of the anechoic chamber located in the aerospace engineering department at Iowa State University. This chamber has a physical dimensions of 12×12×9 feet with a cut-off frequency of 100 Hz. The detailed flow structure downstream of the propeller was measured by a high-resolution digital PIV system. The PIV system was used to elucidate the streamwise flow structure downstream of the propeller. Both “free-run” and “phase-locked” PIV measurements were conducted to achieve the ensemble-average flow structure and detailed flow structure at certain phase angles.


Copyright Owner

Zhe Ning



File Format


File Size

166 pages

Included in

Engineering Commons