Experimental study of three-dimensional vortex structures in translating and rotating plates
Motivated by the unsteady force generation of flying animals, vortex formation and vorticity transport processes around small aspect-ratio translating and rotating plates with a high angle of attack are investigated. Defocusing Digital Particle Image Velocimetry was employed to explore the structure and dynamics of the vortex generated by the plates. For both translating and rotating cases, we observe the presence of a spanwise flow over the plate and the consequent effect of vorticity transport due to the tilting of the leading-edge vortex. While the spanwise flow is confined inside the leading-edge vortex for the translating case, it is widely present over the plate and the wake region of the rotating case. The distribution of the spanwise flow is a prominent distinction between the vortex structures of these two cases. As the Reynolds number decreases, due to the increase in viscosity, the leading-edge and tip vortices tend to spread inside the area swept by the rotating plate. The different vorticity distributions of the low and high Reynolds number cases are consistent with the difference in measured lift forces, which is confirmed using the vorticity moment theory.
© Springer-Verlag 2010. Received: 4 October 2009. Revised: 19 March 2010. Accepted: 23 March 2010. Published online: 23 April 2010. We are grateful to Dr. William Dickson for helping with the experimental setup.