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Scaling the propulsive performance of heaving and pitching foils

  • Daniel Floryan (a1), Tyler Van Buren (a1), Clarence W. Rowley (a1) and Alexander J. Smits (a1)


Scaling laws for the propulsive performance of rigid foils undergoing oscillatory heaving and pitching motions are presented. Water tunnel experiments on a nominally two-dimensional flow validate the scaling laws, with the scaled data for thrust, power and efficiency all showing excellent collapse. The analysis indicates that the behaviour of the foils depends on both Strouhal number and reduced frequency, but for motions where the viscous drag is small the thrust closely follows a linear dependence on reduced frequency. The scaling laws are also shown to be consistent with biological data on swimming aquatic animals.


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