Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Wake topology and hydrodynamic performance of low-aspect-ratio flapping foils

H. DONG a1, R. MITTAL a1 and F. M. NAJJAR a2
a1 Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The George Washington University, 801 22nd St. NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA
a2 Centre For Simulation of Advanced Rockets, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

Article author query
dong h   [Google Scholar] 
mittal r   [Google Scholar] 
najjar fm   [Google Scholar] 


Numerical simulations are used to investigate the effect of aspect ratio on the wake topology and hydrodynamic performance of thin ellipsoidal flapping foils. The study is motivated by the quest to understand the hydrodynamics of fish pectoral fins. The simulations employ an immersed boundary method that allows us to simulate flows with complex moving boundaries on fixed Cartesian grids. A detailed analysis of the vortex topology shows that the wake of low-aspect-ratio flapping foils is dominated by two sets of interconnected vortex loops that evolve into distinct vortex rings as they convect downstream. The flow downstream of these flapping foils is characterized by two oblique jets and the implications of this characteristic on the hydrodynamic performance are examined. Simulations are also used to examine the thrust and propulsive efficiency of these foils over a range of Strouhal and Reynolds numbers as well as pitch-bias angles.

(Received June 24 2005)
(Revised April 11 2006)