Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Stephanie C. TerMaath

Committee Members

Reza Abedi, Richard M. Bennett, Russell Zaretzki


The SNLF [slotted, natural-laminar-flow airfoil] is a revolutionary technology projected to contribute significant decreases in fuel consumption and carbon emissions. The SNLF is designed to allow favorable pressure gradients to extend further aft increasing the extent of laminar flow achievable to about 90% of the entire airfoil, thus reducing the wing profile drag and subsequently fuel consumption. The SNLF is not without its complexity as it introduces several design challenges to maintain laminar flow. The slot width must be maintained during flight to engage the favorable pressure gradients that enable these benefits. As such a crucial aspect for implementing this technology is how the two elements of the slotted airfoil are joined. The slot connectors must be adequately analyzed to transfer the induced high-lift from the aft element while ensuring minimal impedance on the laminar flow within the slot. This dissertation presents the analyses and considerations for the slot connectors including their overall placement within the slot, size, and shape with the effects they have on the structural components of the aircraft half-span wing. Investigations using finite element (FE) modeling, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), and topology optimization inform of potential material distributions and design considerations to ensure the slot connectors transfer the load while maintaining the slot width. To further evaluate potential weight reduction the adhesive joining of composite overlay to a metallic substrate is investigated with the use of non-deterministic approaches including global sensitivity analysis, surrogate modeling, and reduced order modeling.

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