Uncoupling the effects of aspect ratio, Reynolds number and Rossby number on a rotating insect-wing planform

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The individual and combined influences of aspect ratio , Reynolds number and Rossby number on the leading-edge vortex (LEV) of a rotating wing of insect-like planform are investigated numerically. A previous study from our group has determined the wingspan to be an appropriate length scale governing the large-scale LEV structure. In this study, the range considered is further extended, to show that this scaling works well as is varied by a factor of 4 and over a range of two orders of magnitude. The present study also extends this scaling for wings with an offset from the rotation axis, which is typically the case for actual insects and often for experiments. Remarkably, the optimum range of based on the lift coefficients at different coincides with that observed in nature. The scaling based on the wingspan is extended to the acceleration terms of the Navier-Stokes equations, suggesting a modified scaling of , which decouples the effects of . A detailed investigation of the flow structures, by increasing in a wide range, reveals the weakening of the LEV due to the reduced spanwise flow, resulting in a reduced lift. Overall, the use of span-based scaling of and , together with , may help reconcile apparent conflicting trends between observed variations in aerodynamic performance in different sets of experiments and simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-948
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2019


  • aerodynamics
  • biological fluid dynamics
  • swimming/flying

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