Unsteady propulsion near a solid boundary

Daniel B. Quinn, Keith W. Moored, Peter A. Dewey, Alexander J. Smits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Experimental and computational results are presented on an aerofoil undergoing pitch oscillations in ground effect, that is, close to a solid boundary. The time-averaged thrust is found to increase monotonically as the mean position of the aerofoil approaches the boundary while the propulsive efficiency stays relatively constant, showing that ground effect can enhance thrust at little extra cost for a pitching aerofoil. Vortices shed into the wake form pairs rather than vortex streets, so that in the mean a momentum jet is formed that angles away from the boundary. The time-averaged lift production is found to have two distinct regimes. When the pitching aerofoil is between 0.4 and 1 chord lengths from the ground, the lift force pulls the aerofoil towards the ground. In contrast, for wall proximities between 0.25 and 0.4 chord lengths, the lift force pushes the aerofoil away from the ground. Between these two regimes there is a stable equilibrium point where the time-averaged lift is zero and thrust is enhanced by approximately 40Â %.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-170
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • flow-structure interactions
  • propulsion
  • swimming/flying


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