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AA200B

Lecture 14

November 29, 2007

Lecture 14

Introduction

Interest in the aerodynamics of flapping flight has been rekindled with

consideration of micro-air vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles, and

recent experiments with insect models. Much of the previous and current

research in this area is empirical due to the complexity of the relevant flows,

although some mechanisms have been identified and postulated as being

important to flapping performance. In these notes, we examine some of

the basic mechanisms for efficient flapping flight with analysis suitable for

design. The analysis starts simply with a quasi-steady look at flapping in

forward flight.

Lecture 14

An analysis of bumblebee flight in 1934 [3], concluded that according to

the laws of the resistance of the air applied to insects, for them flight is

impossible. Since that time, and likely long before, people have imagined

that certain mysteries of flapping propulsion elude aerodynamicists. Recent

years have brought a number of articles that seek to explain flapping

flight with complex unsteady viscous effects and vortex dynamics. To be

sure, the hovering of insects involves very complicated low Reynolds number

flow phenomena, but some of the basic concepts can be understood quite

simply and that is the aim of this introduction.

Those studying fish and marine mammal locomotion have their own

version of the bumblebees cannot fly myth:

In 1936 the British zoologist James Gray created a stir by

calculating the power that a dolphin would need to move at 20

3

Lecture 14

knots, as some were reported to do. Gray assumed that the resistance

of the moving dolphin was the same as that of a rigid model and

estimated the power that the muscles of the dolphin could deliver.

His conclusion, known as Grays paradox, was that the dolphin was

too weak, by a factor of about seven, to attain such speeds. The

inescapable implication is that there are flow mechanisms at work

around the body of the moving dolphin that lower its drag by a factor

of seven. From [9].

Similarly, the mechanism for swimming propulsion is often considered

a mystery, with recent issues of Nature [1] declaring that One number

explains animal flight.

One number describes the beating of animal wings and tails,

researchers have found. The simple rule of thumb for animal

locomotion could help to design miniature flying machines.

4

Lecture 14

Taylor of the University of Oxford, UK. Swimmers and fliers from

insects to whales all cruise at the speed that lets them slip along most

easily, he and his colleagues show.

Wings and tails create eddies as they move. These need to be

left behind, because turbulent air or water is more difficult to travel

through. So limbs shed vortices at the bottom of their downstrokes.

Flap too quickly, and you have to fight this turbulence on the way up.

Too slowly, and turbulence sticks.

This concept is described in a bit more detail in some lectures by

researchers at M.I.T.:

Exploitation of Vortical Wake Dynamics by Live Fish

Evidence suggests that many fish exploit the natural instability of

the flow energetics to assist them in propulsion and maneuvering. By

5

JET

Lecture 14

generate large thrust and turning forces, and to move silently through

the flow with minimal wasted energy. From [10].

MIT Center for Ocean Engineering, 2005

towards the body, causing drag force

Control volume

flow away from the body, causing thrust force

Control volume

MIT Center for Ocean Engineering, 2005

Figure 1. Vorticity shedding from cylinder and fish (from Ref. 10)

5

Lecture 14

unsteady Navier Stokes equations, but this hardly helps to understand the

mechanisms.

An article in Scientific American [9] describes this idea in more detail:

Any object in a flow, whether it is a wire in the wind or a swimming

swordfish, creates a trail of spinning vortices. The wire obstructs the

flow and leaves a wake, whereas the tail of a fish pushes water

backward, establishing what is more properly known as a jeta column

of moving fluid that includes thrust-producing vortices. We became

convinced that these jet vortices play the central role in the generation

of thrust, and we argued that their optimal formation would increase

efficiency tremendously.

From previous studies we had done on the vortices produced by a

wire in a stream of air, we were well acquainted with a fluid-dynamic

7

Lecture 14

frequency of vortex formation behind an object in a flow and the width

of the wake, divided by the speed of the flow. What the number

indicates, compactly, is how often vortices are created in the wake and

how close they are. Interestingly, the ratio remains constant at about

0.2 for a variety of flow conditions and object shapes.

Although the Strouhal number was invented to describe the wakes

behind flow obstructions, the similarities between wakes and jets are

such that we realized we could use the number to describe jets. For

a swimming fish, we defined the Strouhal number as the product of

the frequency of tail swishing and the width of the jet, divided by the

speed of the fish.

By analyzing data from flapping foils, we found that thrustinducing vortices form optimally when the Strouhal number lies

between 0.25 and 0.35. We anticipated that efficiency should be

at a maximum for these values. Some preliminary experiments at the

8

Lecture 14

does indeed peak when the Strouhal number is in this range.

There is nothing wrong with this approach to understanding flapping

propulsion, but it is a kind of far-field analysis of a phenomenon that may

also be understood in the near field. In the following sections we attempt

to describe flapping propulsion in this way, relying on the more conventional

approaches to aircraft performance analysis.

Lecture 14

Basic Mechanism

How flapping is just like gust soaring In a previous chapter, we considered

how animals might extract energy from gusts and propel themselves by

varying the lift of their wings in phase with the ambient air motion. Figure

2 is the picture we used to understand how thrust might be generated from

vertical gusts. If, however, we think of figure 2 as a top view of a fish tail

and the gusts are caused by the tail motion, the situation is completely

equivalent.

Figure 2. Forces on flapping wing (e.g. fish tail viewed from above)

If a 2D wing is moved through a fluid with a velocity of v and the system

10

Lecture 14

T =

Lv

U

If the lift and lateral velocity are properly phased, the average thrust is

given by:

L0v0

T =

2U

This is the most basic (2D, quasi-steady) way to think of thrust

production due to wing flapping. Many effects are left out here and

can be added in increasingly complex expressions for the average thrust.

The added lift on the wing also generates some unsteady drag, but for

low frequencies the majority of the extra drag is due to 3D quasi-steady

11

Lecture 14

2

L

v

L

0

0

0

T =

2U

2qb2

L0v0

P =

2

so the net efficiency is:

4T

U L0

=1 2 2

=1

2

qv0b

v0 b

Which suggests that for a given thrust, we should move the wing as quickly

as possible.

12

Lecture 14

However, if the wing is not articulated, moving the wing very quickly

will produce an angle of attack that is too large and the wing will stall. If

the wing incidence can be changed by, say 30 deg, and the maximum angle

of attack is about 15 deg then the maximum value for v0 is equal to U

(since the total angle is 30 + 15 = 45 deg).

If the motion is generated by oscillating the aft part of the vehicle with

an amplitude, a, the Strouhal number based on overall tail amplitude (2a)

is:

2af

2a

v0

St =

=

=

U

2U

U

So, if v0 = U , the Strouhal number is 0.318. If v0 is restricted by stalling:

St =

1

tan (max + i)

0.21. These are just in the range suggested for efficient swimming. (No

13

Lecture 14

kinematics.)

The Strouhal number is just one dimensionless frequency measure.

Another is the classical reduced frequency, k, which is defined as: k =

c

c

2U = a St . For a wing with a motion amplitude of 5 times the chord

length at a Strouhal number of 0.3, the reduced frequency is about 0.2,

meaning that unsteady effects are not insignificant, but that the quasi-steady

approximation should be quite good for initial design purposes.

14

Lecture 14

Nonlinear Effects

Of course, with v0 U we need to include viscous drag increments

associated with higher dynamic pressure. When this is done, some algebra

confirms that the maximum efficiency occurs at high L/D and at v0 U .

Thus, the Strouhal number may be limited to values less than 1 = .318

due to kinematics, but otherwise should approach this value. (As an

approximation = CL 1/v

1+v with = CD /CL . Even with low L/D values,

the optimal v0/U is only somewhat larger, confirming the significance of

the 0.3 Strouhal number using simple performance arguments.)

To see how this result comes about, consider the thrust produced by

flapping:

Lv

DU

Fx = L sin D cos =

2

2

v +U

v2 + U 2

15

Lecture 14

.

= 0.5CLv

v 2 + U 2 0.5CD U

v2 + U 2

.

p

Cx = v2 + 1 (CLv CD )

.

Cz =

v2 + 1 (CL + vCD )

. The efficiency of the system is the average value of Cx (with the zero lift

drag coefficient removed if the wing must be there for other reasons) divided

by the average value of Cz v. This is easily computed in a spreadsheet with

results shown in figure 3. Additional nonlinear effects not considered in the

above include nonplanar wake motion and non-quadratic profile drag polars,

which could be important for certain designs.

16

Lecture 14

0.9

Efficiency

0.85

0.8

0.75

0.7

0.65

0.6

0

0.5

1.5

v/U

but with nonlinear effects of viscous drag. CD0 = 0.01, CL0 = 1, AR = 5

17

Lecture 14

Unsteady Effects

In 1936 I. E. Garrick published NACA Report 567, Propulsion of a

Flapping and Oscillating Airfoil, in which he extended Theodorsens 2D

simple harmonic results to include the horizontal force as well as the vertical

force of a pitching and plunging thin airfoil. He did this in two ways (and

showed that the answers are the same): by using thin airfoil theory to

estimate the leading edge suction force and by computing the energy left

in the wake due to the shed vorticity. The details are provided in Garricks

paper (posted on the class website), but may be summarized as follows.

If an airfoil is pitching, (t), about an axis located at ac/2 behind the

mid-chord and moving vertically with the displacement of the rotation axis

given by h(t), the we can write:

(t) = 0eit+0

h(t) = h0eit+2

18

Lecture 14

ba)

+ 2U bC(k)Q

Fz = b2(U + h

1

1

2

8

with:

1

Q = U + h + b( a)

2

Fx = bS 2 + Fz

with:

S=

r

2C(k)Q

1

b

2

19

Lecture 14

W = Fz h + M

So the efficiency over one cycle is:

FxU

=

Fz h + M

this

In the simple case of pure plunging motion ( = 0, Q = h),

becomes:

2U

bS2U

b2(C(k)Q)

F 2 + G2

=

=

=

F

Fz h

2U bC(k)Qh

Here, F and G are the real and imaginary components of C(k).

20

AA200B - Applied Aerodynamics II

Lecture 14

The resultthefor

thisrange

caseofisl/k,

plotted

below. being

The50case

for pitching and

entire

the egciency

percent

d+ (a3+c3> Po2

100 percent and

for is left as an

Cor infinitely

oscillations

and amplitudes

plunging

depends

on the rapid

relative

phases and

O -k2

6.5)

POh,

%POI

exercise.(29) Lnfinitely slow flapping.

d (29) agree we must

ge propulsive force is

.80

.60

Pz V

T O

.zo

'

'

"

'

f0

'

'

"

'

f6

f8

educed to an identity,

m (15)) (23)) and (26)

l/k

I4

fZ

20

( 5 )as a function

of l/k for the case of pure flapping.

Note that even for relatively

low frequency

motion (k = 0.2) substantial

decreases in efficiency

20%)

appear.

For the (>

special

case

of angular oscillations about a

hat

oscillations

PZV

(a

+G2)[; +

p,=Tpbp2b2a02{

(P

+;(

-a )

-a ) ]

-;

(+a);]

21

(34)

Lecture 14

3D Considerations

Additional considerations apply in 3D. For a useful discussion of some

of these including the effects of large amplitude motion, see Ref. [11].

Even for small motions the 3-dimensionality of the flow makes 2D results of

limited use. Here we mention two fundamental issues.

The first is that, just as in steady flow, the wing sheds vorticity that

trails downstream, induces downwash on the wing, and creates drag. Even

when there is no average lift on the wing, induced drag is created by the 3D

unsteady trailing vorticity. However, in this case the quasi-steady analysis

is pessimistic, since the time-varying vorticity leads to reduced downwash

compared with the constant strength sheet. As the frequency increases, the

extra induced drag caused by flapping is actually reduced, while the losses

due to transverse vorticity increase. (Note that in the linear theory, these

effects of these vorticity components may superimposed.)

22

Lecture 14

loadings for flapping flight. This problem was addressed in a simple, quasisteady analysis by R.T. Jones [13], and with a more refined study described

in Ref. [11]. To illustrate some of these ideas, consider the question of

optimal loading in the linearized, quasi-steady case. Just as described in the

discussion of minimum induced drag, we can use the method of restricted

variations to determine the optimal load distribution for flapping.

Consider arbitrary, small simple flapping motion where the local motion

of the wing is given by wf (y), and for which the additional loading during

the flapping cycle produces a downwash distribution of ww (y). Assume also

that we add a small increment to the loading at a station y1 and y2. In this

case, the change in total thrust is given by:

T = wf 11 + wf 22 ww 11 ww 22

23

Lecture 14

P = U 1wf 1 + U 2wf 2

If we hold the power constant (P = 0) and seek the optimal loading,

then T = 0. Substituting the second expression into the first and setting

it to 0 shows that for arbitrary (but small) flapping motions, the optimal

loading should be that associated with a downwash distribution ww that

is proportional to the local motion due to flapping, wf . So for simple

plunging, the optimal loading is elliptic, while for rotation about a central

hinge, the optimal downwash is linear. This then would allow us to compute

the lift distribution and then solve for the required wing twist.

24

Lecture 14

Initial Conclusions

The conclusion is that a well-designed flapping propulsion system may

be better or worse than a propeller in terms of efficiency, depending on

the constraints on the many parameters. The disadvantages of flapping

propulsion for fish and AUVs include:

Low frequencies require high gear ratios and heavy or complex

transmissions

A dorsal fin may be required to counteract the periodic sideforce

Time-dependent incidence changes are required, but might be achieved

with passive hydroelastic tailoring

The advantages of flapping propulsion include:

25

Lecture 14

The fin area may be needed for lateral stability/control as well as

propulsion

Small angular deflections may reduce possibility of fouling

When the flapping wing is also used for lift, as in birds and insects, the

surfaces must be located near the c.g. and cannot be translated so easily.

In this case a flapping motion in which the plunging rate varies over the

span is generally used. The actual motion varies greatly from v-like motions

to much more complex motions, but may be analyzed in an analogous

manner. The paper in these notes entitled Optimal Wing Flapping shows

how linear quasi-steady theory is applied in this case.

If we consider flapping for propulsion in forward flight, the reduced

26

Lecture 14

k=

c

f c f A c

c

=

=

= St

2U

U

U A

A

are equal. With Strouhal numbers in the range of 0.3, the quasi-steady

assumption may reasonable when the amplitude is larger than about 3

chords, but not if it is much smaller. The paper in these notes Unsteady

Wing Flapping addresses some of the issues in these cases.

27

Lecture 14

References

1. John Whitfield, One number explains animal flight, Science Update,

Nature, 16 October 2003

2. Taylor, G. K., Nudds, R. L., Thomas, A. L. R. Flying and swimming

animals cruise at a Strouhal number tuned for high power efficiency. Nature,

425, 707-711, 2003.

3. August Magnan, Le Vol Des Insects, Hermann and Cle, Paris, 1934,

and Can bumblebees fly: an internet discussion.

4. Michael H. Dickinson, Fritz-Olaf Lehmann, Sanjay P. Sane, Wing

Rotation and the Aerodynamic Basis of Insect Flight, 18 JUNE 1999 VOL

284 SCIENCE, www.sciencemag.org

5. Unsteady aerodynamic forces of a flapping wing, Jiang Hao Wu and

28

Lecture 14

by The Company of Biologists 2004 doi:10.1242/jeb.00868.

6. Magic number revealed for flying and swimming,18:00 15 October

03, NewScientist.com news service

7. Michael Dickinson, Solving the Mystery of Insect Flight: Insects use a

combination of aerodynamic effects to remain aloft, ScientificAmerican.com,

June 17, 2001

8.

Robert Dudley, BIOMECHANICS: Enhanced:

Aerodynamics, 18 JUNE 1999 VOL 284 SCIENCE.

Unsteady

swimming machine, Scientific American; Mar95, Vol. 272 Issue 3, p64.

10. Alexandra H. Techet, Fish Swimming, Lecture 1, Biological

and Medical Engineering, Center for Ocean Engineering, Department of

29

Lecture 14

MA, Spring 2005

[11] Garrick, I. E., A Review of Unsteady Aerodynamics of Potential

Flows, Applied Mechanics Review, Vol. 5, No. 3, March 1952, pp. 89-91.

[12] Hall, K.C., and Hall, S.R., Minimum Induced Power Requirements

for Flapping Flight, J. Fluid Mech. (1996), vol. 323, pp. 285-315,

Cambridge University Press.

[13] Jones, R. T. 1980 Wing flapping with minimum energy. Aero. J.

84, 214-217.

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