Low reynolds number aerodynamics of flapping airfoils in hover and forward flight

Günaydınoğlu, Erkan
The scope of the thesis is to numerically investigate the aerodynamics of flapping airfoils in hover and forward flight. The flowfields around flapping airfoils are computed by solving the governing equations on moving and/or deforming grids. The effects of Reynolds number, reduced frequency and airfoil geometry on unsteady aerodynamics of flapping airfoils undergoing pure plunge and combined pitch-plunge motions in forward flight are investigated. It is observed that dynamic stall of the airfoil is the main mechanism of lift augmentation for both motions at all Reynolds numbers ranging from 10000 to 60000. However, the strength and duration of the leading edge vortex vary with airfoil geometry and reduced frequency. It is also observed that more favorable force characteristics are achieved at higher reduced frequencies and low plunging amplitudes while keeping the Strouhal number constant. The computed flowfields are compared with the wide range of experimental studies and high fidelity simulations thus it is concluded that the present approach is applicable for investigating the flapping wing aerodynamics in forward flight. The effects of vertical translation amplitude and Reynolds number on flapping airfoils in hover are also studied. As the vertical translation amplitude increases, the vortices become stronger and the formation of leading edge vortex is pushed towards the midstroke of the motion. The instantaneous aerodynamic forces for a given figure-of-eight motion do not alter significantly for Reynolds numbers ranging from 500 to 5500.
Citation Formats
E. Günaydınoğlu, “Low reynolds number aerodynamics of flapping airfoils in hover and forward flight,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2010.