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Research Papers

A Relationship Between Sweep Angle of Flapping Pectoral Fins and Thrust Generation

[+] Author and Article Information
Soheil Arastehfar

School of Engineering,
Deakin University,
Waurn Ponds 3216, VIC, Australia;
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
Singapore 117575
e-mail: soheil.arastehfar@deakin.edu.au

Chee-Meng Chew

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
Singapore 117575
e-mail: chewcm@nus.edu.sg

Athena Jalalian

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
Singapore 117575
e-mail: athena@nus.edu.sg

Gunawan Gunawan

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
Singapore 117575
e-mail: mpegu@nus.edu.sg

Khoon Seng Yeo

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Singapore,
Singapore 117575
e-mail: mpeyeoks@nus.edu.sg

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Mechanisms and Robotics Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANISMS AND ROBOTICS. Manuscript received April 25, 2018; final manuscript received October 4, 2018; published online December 10, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Robert J. Wood.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 11(1), 011014 (Dec 10, 2018) (9 pages) Paper No: JMR-18-1118; doi: 10.1115/1.4041697 History: Received April 25, 2018; Revised October 04, 2018

Propulsive capability of manta rays' flapping pectoral fins has inspired many to incorporate these fins as propulsive mechanisms for autonomous underwater vehicles. In particular, geometrical factors such as sweep angle have been postulated as being influential to these fins' propulsive capability, specifically their thrust generation. Although effects of sweep angle on static/flapping wings of aircrafts/drones have been widely studied, little has been done for underwater conditions. Furthermore, the findings from air studies may not be relatable to the underwater studies on pectoral fins because of the different Reynolds number (compared to the flapping wings) and force generation mechanism (compared to the static wings). This paper aims to establish a relationship between the sweep angle and thrust generation. An experiment was conducted to measure the thrust generated by 40 fins in a water channel under freestream and still water conditions for chord Reynolds number between 2.2 × 104 and 8.2 × 104. The fins were of five different sweep angles (0 deg, 10 deg, 20 deg, 30 deg, and 40 deg) that were incorporated into eight base designs of different flexibility characteristics. The results showed that the sweep angle (within the range considered) may have no significant influence on these fins' thrust generation, implying no significant effects on thrust under uniform flow condition and on the maximum possible thrust under still water. Overall, it can be concluded that sweep angle may not be a determinant of thrust generation for flapping pectoral fins. This knowledge can ease the decision-making process of design of robots propeled by these fins.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

(a) sweep angle of flapping pectoral fins and (b) demonstration of significant impact of sweep angle (varied from 0 deg to 40 deg, in increment of 10 deg) on the fin geometry

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Fig. 2

MantaDroid is propeled by the pectoral fins used for the study in this paper

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Fig. 3

(a) a base fin design (fabricated one in black) with its dimensions and (b) fins of the five sweep angle variations

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Fig. 4

The leading edge design

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Fig. 5

Fin designs sorted according to their bending stiffness

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Fig. 6

The experiment setup

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Fig. 7

The normalized T represented by box charts for the base fin designs

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Fig. 8

The average of the normalized T generated by the fins of the same thickness in freestream and still water, ignoring the effects of leading edge designs related to the spanwise flexibility

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Fig. 9

The average of the normalized T generated by the fins of the same leading edge design in freestream (the top chart) and still water (the bottom chart), ignoring the effects of fin thickness related to the chordwise flexibility

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Fig. 10

T∧ of the base fin designs. In each graph, a total of 80 data points, corresponding to the five sweep angles and 16 kinematic parameters, can be observed.

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Fig. 11

An example of the measured angle of attack for two sweep angle variations 30 (left) deg and 40 (right) deg. The fins were of the same base fin design with thick fin and leading edge design 4. The fins are flapping with the same f and A.

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Fig. 12

The concavity of the thrust generation patterns demonstrated by the coefficient of x2 from the polynomial representation of the patterns in Table 4

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Fig. 13

The aligned3 thrust generation patterns of the thin and thick fins of the same leading edge design

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Fig. 14

The average of the lateral force against the sweep angle

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Fig. 15

Exemplification of the steps of process to obtain thrust generation pattern for the fin with sweep angle 0, leading edge Design 1, and thin PVC sheet; top left: categorization of T into four groups of ascending A, top right: T∧, bottom left: T∧ rearranged according to chord Reynolds number, and bottom right: thrust generation pattern

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Fig. 16

Each graph shows five thrust profiles associated with the five sweep angles, generated under a certain f and A

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