Publication Detail

Passive Propulsion in Vortex Wakes

David N Beal, Franz Hover, Michael Triantafyllou
18 pp.
MITSG 06-12J
$5.50 DOM / $7.50 INT

A dead fish is propelled upstream when its flexible body resonates with oncoming vortices formed in the wake of a bluff cylinder, despite being well outside the suction region of the cylinder. Within this passive propulsion mode, the body of the fish extracts sufficient energy from the oncoming vortices to develop thrust to overcome its own drag. In a similar turbulent wake and at roughly the same distance behind a bluff cylinder, a passively mounted high-aspect-ratio foil is also shown to propel itself upstream employing a similar flow energy extraction mechanism. In this case, mechanical energy is extracted from the flow at the same time that thrust is produced. These results prove experimentally that, under proper conditions, a body can follow at a distance or even catch up to another upstream body without expending any energy of its own. This observation is also significant in the development of low-drag energy harvesting devices, and in the energetics of fish dwelling in flowing water and swimming behind wake-forming obstacles.

type: Journal, book, proceeding reprints

Parent Project

Project No.: 2004-R/RD-25
Title: Basic Scaling Law in Fast-Starting and Rapidly-Maneuvering Fish