Optimization of flapping airfoils for maximum thrust and propulsive efficiency

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Tuncer I., Kaya M.

AIAA JOURNAL, vol.43, no.11, pp.2329-2336, 2005 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Doi Number: 10.2514/1.816
  • Journal Name: AIAA JOURNAL
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.2329-2336


The thrust and/or propulsive efficiency of a single flapping airfoil is-maximized by using a numerical optimization method based on the steepest ascent. The flapping motion of the airfoil is described by a combined sinusoidal plunge and pitching motion. Optimization parameters are taken to be the amplitudes of the plunge and pitching motions and the phase shift between them at a fixed flapping frequency. Two-dimensional, unsteady, low-speed, laminar, and turbulent flows are computed by using a Navier-Stokes solver on moving overset grids. Computations are performed in parallel in a computer cluster. The optimization data show that high thrust values may be obtained at the expense of propulsive efficiency. For a high propulsive efficiency, the effective angle of attack of the airfoil is reduced, and large-scale vortex formations at the leading edge are prevented.