Numerical and experimental estimation of the efficiency of a quadcopter rotor operating at hover

Andres M. Pérez Gordillo, Juan Sebastian Villegas Santos, Omar D. Lopez Mejia, Laura Juliana Suárez Collazos, Jaime A. Escobar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Globalization has led to an increase in the use of small copters for different activities such as geo-referencing, agricultural fields monitoring, survillance, among others. This is the main reason why there is a strong interest in the performance of small-scale propellers used in unmanned aerial vehicles. The flow developed by rotors is complex and the estimation of its aerodynamic performance is not a trivial process. In addition, viscous effects, when the rotor operates at low Reynolds, affect its performance. In the present paper, two different computational methods, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and the Unsteady Vortex Lattice Method (UVLM) with a viscous correction, were used to study the performance of an isolated rotor of a quadcopter flying at hover. The Multi Reference Frame model and transition SST κ − ω turbulence model were used in the CFD simulations. The tip vortex core growth was used to account for the viscous effects in the UVLM. The wake structure, pressure coefficient, thrust and torque predictions from both methods are compared. Thrust and torque results from simulations were validated by means of experimental results of a characterization of a single rotor. Finally, figure of merit of the rotor is evaluated showing that UVLM overestimates the efficiency of the rotor; meanwhile, CFD predictions are close to experimental values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number261
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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