Journal of Fluid Mechanics


Bifurcating flows of plunging aerofoils at high Strouhal numbers

D. J. Cleavera1, Z. Wanga1 and I. Gursula1 c1

a1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK


Force and particle image velocimetry measurements were conducted on a NACA 0012 aerofoil undergoing small-amplitude high-frequency plunging oscillation at low Reynolds numbers and angles of attack in the range 0–$2{0}^{\ensuremath{\circ} } $. For angles of attack less than or equal to the stall angle, at high Strouhal numbers, significant bifurcations are observed in the time-averaged lift coefficient resulting in two lift-coefficient branches. The upper branch is associated with an upwards deflected jet, and the lower branch is associated with a downwards deflected jet. These branches are stable and highly repeatable, and are achieved by increasing or decreasing the frequency in the experiments. Increasing frequency refers to starting from stationary and increasing the frequency very slowly (while waiting for the flow to reach an asymptotic state after each change in frequency); decreasing frequency refers to impulsively starting at the maximum frequency and decreasing the frequency very slowly. For the latter case, angle of attack, starting position and initial acceleration rate are also parameters in determining which branch is selected. The bifurcation behaviour is closely related to the properties of the trailing-edge vortices. The bifurcation was therefore not observed for very small plunge amplitudes or frequencies due to insufficient trailing-edge vortex strength, nor at larger angles of attack due to greater asymmetry in the strength of the trailing-edge vortices, which creates a preference for a downward deflected jet. Vortex strength and asymmetry parameters are derived from the circulation measurements. It is shown that the most appropriate strength parameter in determining the onset of deflected jets is the circulation normalized by the plunge velocity.

(Received September 22 2011)

(Reviewed March 22 2012)

(Accepted June 19 2012)

(Online publication August 08 2012)

Key Words:

  • bifurcation;
  • vortex interaction;
  • vortex streets


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