A Computational Study of the Clap and Fling Aerodynamic Mechanism

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Clap and fling is a particular wing kinematic pattern utilized by some insects and birds to produce enhanced aerodynamic forces. It consists of two very distinct phases: i) the leading edges of the two wings are brought together near the upper limit of the upstroke and subsequently the wings are rotated around their leading edges, 'clapping'' like a closing book; ii) at the onset of the downstroke, and while they are still close, the two wings rotate around their trailing edges 'flinging'' apart. Prior theoretical and experimental work suggested that clap-and-fling is responsible for production of unusually high lift coefficients. However, due to limitations of the theoretical models and experimental techniques, detailed quantitative results are yet to be reported. The primary objective of the present work is to provide a concrete description of the underlying physics by means of high-fidelity simulations based on the Navier-Stokes equations for incompressible flow. In particular, the effects of the kinematics and the Reynolds number are discussed in detail in the thesis. Thesis' results verify the lift enhancement trends observed in experiments and identify the particular flow patterns correlated with such increases.