Flapping membranes for thrust production

J. M. Jiménez, J. H.J. Buchholz, A. E. Staples, J. J. Allen, A. J. Smits

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The wake of a flexible flapping membrane has been investigated using flow visualization and particle image velocimetry. The aspect ratio of the flexible membrane was 0.27. The Strouhal number (St) was varied from 0.44 to 0.16, corresponding to Reynolds numbers between 2.2 × 10 5 and 4.1×10 5. Under these conditions, a wake structure was observed that resembles the 2P structure characteristic of flapping foils but containing at least four vortex pairs per cycle. For St ≥ 0.35, vorticity contour plots suggest that each multiple vortex pair structure has approximately zero net circulation; whereas for lower St, vorticity of one sign is diminished such that the wake begins to resemble the classical von Kármán vortex street. A mean wake velocity profile measured at the mid-span of the membrane suggests a net drag for all flow conditions considered, with the minimum drag occurring for St = 0.35. However, preliminary flow visualization experiments with an increased aspect ratio of 0.45 show a simpler 2S-type structure resembling a reverse von Kármán vortex street for which greater efficiency in thrust production is expected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIUTAM Symposium on Integrated Modeling of Fully Coupled Fluid Structure Interactions Using Analysis, Computations and Experiments
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2004

Publication series

NameFluid Mechanics and its Applications
ISSN (Print)0926-5112

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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