Abstract

The energy harvesting performance of a flapping airfoil is studied through discrete vortex model. Results are obtained for a thin flat airfoil that undergoes a sinusoidal flapping motion for reduced frequencies of k = fC/U = 0.06–0.16 where f is the heaving frequency of the foil, C is the chord length and U is the freestream velocity. The airfoil pitches about the mid-chord and the heaving and pitching amplitudes of the airfoil are h0 = 0.5C and θ0 = 70° respectively, as these numbers have been shown to give optimal energy harvesting results for a rigid airfoil. The study applies a panel-based discrete vortex model that incorporates a leading edge suction parameter criterion to understand the flow behavior around the airfoil. The leading edge suction parameter is found from 2D CFD simulations (Navier-Stokes equations solved in Fluent) for all K values. A correlation between the critical leading edge suction parameter and reduced frequency is found from the identified critical LESP values. An empirical trailing edge separation correction is also applied to the transient force results since flow separation at the trailing edge is anticipated. The parameters of interest from the model are transient distributions of force, power output, and overall efficiency. Model results are then validated against 2D CFD simulations. The effect of reduced frequency on power production and overall efficiency is finally studied to identify the optimal reduced frequency for energy harvesting applications.

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