Validation of XFOIL for 2D Airfoils


With the technology available to us today, it is impossible to calculate the equations that model flow over a full scale airplane using the Navier-Stokes method. Even with the current rate of technological increases, it is estimated that this will not be a possibility until roughly 2080. This estimation assumes that technological increases keep coming at the same rate, but they have slowed down. Due to this, in order to approximate the flow over a 3D model, physical approximations need to be made. Given that all of our results are based on assumptions, it is important to make sure that the methods we are using are numerically accurate. 

The airfoils analyzed by XFOIL are only 2D models, therefore it does not account for varying geometry along a wing or for other factors, such as wingtip vortices that increase drag. Viscous or inviscid analysis can be performed for lift and drag predictions, as well as drag polar calculation with fixed or varying Reynolds or Mach numbers. The Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) to be used to assess XFOIL is a system to measure the maturity level of a technology. There are a total of 9 levels, starting from TRL 1 where basic principles are observed, to TRL 9 where the system is completed and fully applicable.  With the collected data from the wind tunnel experiments, XFOIL will be validated as one of the 9 levels.


Goals and Objectives

Our team's main goal is to verify and validate XFOIL's numerical prediction method at TRL 4, which is concept generation within a lab setting.  The experimental design must test the limits of XFOIL capabilities and find the conditions in which its predictions are most accurate as well as inaccurate. 

  1. Determine Experimental Requirements - Oct. 18, 2022
  2. Determine Airfoil Types for Experimentation - Oct. 22, 2022
  3. Intial Draft of First Experiment Methodology -  Oct. 28, 2022
  4. Airfoil manufacturing - Nov. 5, 2022
  5. XFOIL numerical verification - Nov. 5, 2022
  6. Execute Wind Tunnel Experimentation - Nov. 11, 2022
  7. Data Analysis and Results - Nov 20, 2022
  8. XFOIL validation and recomendations - Nov. 27, 2022


About the Team

We are team AntFoil, consisting of four UCI undergraduate engineering students. We combined “Anteater” with airfoil to represent both UC Irvine Anteaters and the projects focus on XFOIL's analysis of 2D airfoils.Through the project, we are aiming to gain proficiency in the verification and validation processes of software and gain further understand of the aerodynamic and physics behind airfoils.


Team Contacts

Daniel Arenas |

Amanda Fujimoto |

Margallo Malit |

Carter Murphy |

Team Advisor

Perry Johnson, PhD |


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