Flapping wing; Low Reynolds number flow; Micro air vehicle; Water tunnel; Computational fluid dynamics
This paper presents the finalized results of a recent project which investigated the aeromechanical aspects of aerodynamic force generation by making use of flapping wings. Flapping-wing experiments using small wings have some unique challenges posed by the low force level (∼1 N) and the cyclic wing motion. A tailored experimental water tunnel facility was developed for flapping wings operating at high reduced frequency with a complex two-dimensional and a three-dimensional motion profile. The experimental capability is demonstrated by the test cases of two-dimensional and three-dimensional flapping wings, designed according to a proposed notional nano-air-vehicle at a hovering condition. The features of the water tunnel, the geometric and kinematic parameters of the airfoils/wings, and the setups of the motion rigs for each test case are described. Measured forces and particle image velocimetry data are analyzed and cross-checked with the numerical results obtained from a code developed in-house. The comparisons of the experimental and numerical results show that the established experimental approach obtained a quantitatively reliable solution for the development of flapping wings and can serve for numerical validation of engineering tool developments. The investigation reveals that the kinematics of a rigid airfoil or wing is the dominant influence in the generation of aerodynamic forces, while the cross-section profile plays a secondary role. An asymmetric-wake-in-time is found behind the single airfoils and wings, which contributes to an asymmetry behavior of the resulting aerodynamic forces. In addition to the findings of single airfoils and wings, further analyses of the numerical and experimental results confirm that wing-wing interaction through the clap-fling mechanism can intensify the generation of the thrust force while accompanied by a small reduction in the overall propulsion efficiency.
Taylor & Francis
Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics9, no. 1: 199–219.