How thrust and efficiency change if you swim near the bottom of the pool

We developed a model that estimates how thrust and efficiency change as a pitching hydrofoil gets closer to a planar boundary. Our model predicts that the modified forces are caused by an increasing amount of virtual mass and an increasingly distorted wake. We validated the model by comparing with water channel experiments and inviscid flow simulations. (This work was done in collaboration with the Biofluids Research Lab at Lehigh University.)

Authors: Amin Mivehchi, Qiang Zhong, Melike Kurt, Daniel Quinn, & Keith Moored

Abstract: Scaling laws for the thrust production and power consumption of a purely pitching hydrofoil in ground effect are presented. For the first time, ground-effect scaling laws based on physical insights capture the propulsive performance over a wide range of biologically relevant Strouhal numbers, dimensionless amplitudes and dimensionless ground distances. This is achieved by advancing previous scaling laws (Moored & Quinn (AIAA J., 2018, pp. 1–15)) with physics-driven modifications to the added mass and circulatory forces to account for ground distance variations. The key physics introduced are the increase in the added mass of a foil near the ground and the reduction in the influence of a wake-vortex system due to the influence of its image system. The scaling laws are found to be in good agreement with new inviscid simulations and viscous experiments, and can be used to accelerate the design of bio-inspired hydrofoils that oscillate near a ground plane or two out-of-phase foils in a side-by-side arrangement.

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