26 March 2015 Soap film flow visualization investigations of oscillating wing energy harvesters
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Abstract
With increasing population and proliferation of wireless electronics, significant research attention has turned to harvesting energy from ambient sources such as wind and water flows at scales ranging from micro-watt to mega-watt levels. One technique that has recently attracted attention is the application of bio-inspired flapping wings for energy harvesting. This type of system uses a heaving and pitching airfoil to extract flow energy and generate electricity. Such a device can be realized using passive devices excited by aeroelastic flutter phenomena, kinematic mechanisms driven by mechanical linkages, or semi-active devices that are actively controlled in one degree of freedom and passively driven in another. For these types of systems, numerical simulations have showed strong dependence on efficiency and vortex interaction. In this paper we propose a new apparatus for reproducing arbitrary pitch-heave waveforms to perform flow visualization experiments in a soap film tunnel. The vertically falling, gravity driven soap film tunnel is used to replicate flows with a chord Reynolds number on the order of 4x104. The soap film tunnel is used to investigate leading edge vortex (LEV) and trailing edge vortex (TEV) interactions for sinusoidal and non-sinusoidal waveforms. From a qualitative analysis of the fluid structure interaction, we have been able to demonstrate that the LEVs for non-sinusoidal motion convect faster over the airfoil compared with sinusoidal motion. Signifying that optimal flapping frequency is dependent on the motion profile.
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Benjamin Kirschmeier, Matthew Bryant, "Soap film flow visualization investigations of oscillating wing energy harvesters", Proc. SPIE 9429, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2015, 94290V (26 March 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2086523; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2086523
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