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Title: Fluid-structure interactions of membrane wings in free-flight and in ground-effect
Author: Bleischwitz, Robert
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 6071
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2016
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Currently, there is a growing demand to improve the aerodynamic performance of Micro-Air-Vehicles for extended mission time, higher payload capacity and improved agility. Their wings have to operate within a challenging Reynolds number regime of Re =10(4)-10(5) which is known for its low energy content in the boundary layer, causing early flow separation and loss in lift production. Flexible wings, inspired from bats, could potentially exploit given flow separations by forming lift carrying shedding structures close to the upper wing surface. The aspect-ratio is one key parameter which modifies these vortex formations and their ability to couple with the membrane. However, vortex related lift production comes at a price of increased drag and limitation in aerodynamic efficiency. Membrane wings in ground-effect could combine ground-effect related efficiency enhancement with flexibility related stall improvements. Therefore, two separate wind tunnel experiments are conducted to understand the impact of aspect-ratio and ground-effect on the fluid-structure interaction of membrane wings. Multiple high-speed recordings involve lift, drag and pitch moment measurements with a load-cell, membrane deformation measurements with photogrammetry and digital image correlation (DIC)and flow measurements with planar/stereo particle image velocimetry (PIV). Next to time-averaged quantities, reduced order models are used to group predominant flow and membrane dynamics. Synchronised fluid-membrane coupling of flexible membrane wings allows to exploit separated flow conditions to provide further lift enhancement from vortical flow formations. An exemplary membrane wing at [alpha] = 25(o) shows similar vortex-shedding to a rigid at-plate at [alpha] = 15(o), but comes with 50 % more lift production. Higher aspect-ratios are found to exploit the benefits of wing flexibility to a larger extend, showing a gain in peak-lift of up to 60% for an aspect-ratio of 2 and 31% for an aspect-ratio of 1 (in reference to rigid at-plates). Membrane wings extend their performance window in ground-effect conditions by delaying ground-effect induced premature flow separation by [DELTA alpha] = 5(o). In addition, membrane wings in ground-effect are found to be up to 30% more efficiency than rigid at-plates.
Supervisor: Ganapathisubramani, Bharathram Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available