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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2010, Article ID 675462, 19 pages
Research Article

Influence of Thickness Variation on the Flapping Performance of Symmetric NACA Airfoils in Plunging Motion

School of Aerospace Engineering, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China

Received 10 May 2010; Revised 29 September 2010; Accepted 6 November 2010

Academic Editor: Paulo Batista Gonçalves

Copyright © 2010 Liangyu Zhao and Shuxing Yang. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In order to investigate the impact of airfoil thickness on flapping performance, the unsteady flow fields of a family of airfoils from an NACA0002 airfoil to an NACA0020 airfoil in a pure plunging motion and a series of altered NACA0012 airfoils in a pure plunging motion were simulated using computational fluid dynamics techniques. The “class function/shape function transformation“ parametric method was employed to decide the coordinates of these altered NACA0012 airfoils. Under specified plunging kinematics, it is observed that the increase of an airfoil thickness can reduce the leading edge vortex (LEV) in strength and delay the LEV shedding. The increase of the maximum thickness can enhance the time-averaged thrust coefficient and the propulsive efficiency without lift reduction. As the maximum thickness location moves towards the leading edge, the airfoil obtains a larger time-averaged thrust coefficient and a higher propulsive efficiency without changing the lift coefficient.