Laminar Flow Whistle on a Vehicle Side Mirror
In the development of several outside mirror designs for vehicles, a high frequency noise (whistling) phenomenon was experienced. First impression was that this might be due to another source on the vehicle (such as water management channels) or a cavity noise; however, upon further investigation the source was found to be the mirror housing. This “laminar whistle” is related to the separation of a laminar boundary layer near the trailing edges of the mirror housing. When there is a free stream impingement on the mirror housing, the boundary layer starts out as laminar, but as the boundary layer travels from the impingement point, distance, speed, and roughness combine to trigger the transition turbulent. However, when the transition is not complete, pressure fluctuations can cause rapidly changing flow patterns that sound like a whistle to the observer. Because the laminar boundary layer has very little energy, it does not allow the flow to stay attached on curved surfaces.