Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Barton L. Smith


Barton L. Smith


Robert E. Spall


Heng Ban


The uncertainty of any measurement is the interval in which one believes the actual error lies. Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) measurement error depends on the PIV algorithm used, a wide range of user inputs, flow characteristics, and the experimental setup. Since these factors vary in time and space, they lead to nonuniform error throughout the flow field. As such, a universal PIV uncertainty estimate is not adequate and can be misleading. This is of particular interest when PIV data are used for comparison with computational or experimental data.

A method to estimate the uncertainty due to the PIV calculation of each individual velocity measurement is presented. The relationship between four error sources and their contribution to PIV error is first determined. The sources, or parameters, considered are particle image diameter, particle density, particle displacement, and velocity gradient, although this choice in parameters is arbitrary and may not be complete. This information provides a four-dimensional "uncertainty surface" for the PIV algorithm used. After PIV processing, our code "measures" the value of each of these parameters and estimates the velocity uncertainty for each vector in the flow field. The reliability of the methodology is validated using known flow fields so the actual error can be determined. Analysis shows that, for most flows, the uncertainty distribution obtained using this method fits the confidence interval. The method is general and can be adapted to any PIV analysis.




This work made publicly available electronically on April 11, 2011.