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Published May 22, 2007 | public
Journal Article Open

Role of the tip vortex in the force generation of low-aspect-ratio normal flat plates


We investigate experimentally the force generated by the unsteady vortex formation of low-aspect-ratio normal flat plates with one end free. The objective of this study is to determine the role of the free end, or tip, vortex. Understanding this simple case provides insight into flapping-wing propulsion, which involves the unsteady motion of low-aspect-ratio appendages. As a simple model of a propulsive half-stroke, we consider a rectangular normal flat plate undergoing a translating start-up motion in a towing tank. Digital particle image velocimetry is used to measure multiple perpendicular sections of the flow velocity and vorticity, in order to correlate vortex circulation with the measured plate force. The three-dimensional wake structure is captured using flow visualization. We show that the tip vortex produces a significant maximum in the plate force. Suppressing its formation results in a force minimum. Comparing plates of aspect ratio six and two, the flow is similar in terms of absolute distance from the tip, but evolves faster for aspect ratio two. The plate drag coefficient increases with decreasing aspect ratio.

Additional Information

© 2007 Cambridge University Press. Reprinted with permission. (Received 26 May 2005 and in revised form 18 January 2007). Published online 22 May 2007.


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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023