Thrust enhancement due to flexible trailing-edge of plunging foils

David Cleaver, Ismet Gursul, Dario Calderon, Zhijin Wang

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Drag reduction for hydrofoils is studied through thrust generation on foils plunging at low Strouhal numbers in order to simulate the action of the ocean waves. Force, deformation and flow field measurements are presented for a partially flexible plunging foil in water tunnel experiments. The foil is predominantly rigid with a short flexible trailing-edge plate of length: L=0.1c, 0.2c, or 0.3c. Using flexible plates, whose natural structural frequency is much higher than the frequency of the plunge oscillations, increases thrust compared to the rigid case. Flexibility is generally more effective for larger lengths of the flexible plate and smaller plunge amplitudes. The maximum observed is therefore for the largest length and smallest amplitude studied: L=0.3c and a=0.1c and equates to 28% more thrust than the rigid case. Optima are observed in the non-dimensional rigidity (λ) versus flap angle amplitude (δ, which is a measure of the relative deformation) parameter space. These occur at λ≈2 and δ≈7–13° for a wide range of flexible plate length and plunge amplitude. Whilst a satisfactory explanation of why there is an optimal flap amplitude remains unavailable, the case of optimal flap angle amplitude results in increased trailing-edge vortex circulation, giving a stronger reverse Kármán vortex street and thus a stronger time-averaged jet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-412
JournalJournal of Fluids and Structures
Issue number0
Early online date22 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


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