Scaling the propulsive performance of heaving and pitching foils

Daniel Floryan, Tyler Van Buren, Clarence Worth Rowley, Alexander Smits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Scaling laws for the propulsive performance of rigid foils undergoing oscillatory heaving and pitching motions are presented. Water tunnel experiments on a nominally two-dimensional flow validate the scaling laws, with the scaled data for thrust, power and efficiency all showing excellent collapse. The analysis indicates that the behaviour of the foils depends on both Strouhal number and reduced frequency, but for motions where the viscous drag is small the thrust closely follows a linear dependence on reduced frequency. The scaling laws are also shown to be consistent with biological data on swimming aquatic animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-397
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jul 10 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


  • biological fluid dynamics
  • propulsion
  • swimming/flying


Dive into the research topics of 'Scaling the propulsive performance of heaving and pitching foils'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this