Weekly Seminar

Weekly Seminar

Annual Symposium

CEAFM Dual Degree Program


Special Seminar: Summer 2017

Speaker: Prof. Holger Babinsky (University of Cambridge)
"Unsteady Lift Generation at Low-Reynolds Numbers/Introduction to Flapping Wing Aerodyamics"

Date: Monday, July 10, 2017
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Latrobe Hall 106


A rapidly accelerating and pitching flat plate wing is a useful simplification of the complex fluid mechanics encountered in flapping wings. It has been known for some time that unsteady effects are exploited in nature to generate additional lift at low Reynolds numbers. However, the exact physical mechanisms underlying the generation of force continue to challenge our understanding of such flows. One approach to improve our insight is to identify some fundamental effects and capture these in low-order force models.

This lecture describes the flow phenomena observed in accelerating and pitching wings and introduces one such force model. The model is informed by experiments performed as part of NATO’s AVT-202 technical team. The overall agreement of the model with the forces measured by the team members is reasonable, however, its main value is to identify a number of contributions to the lift force and classifying these as either circulatory or non-circulatory. Thus the relative effects of viscosity and kinematics are identified which helps the understanding of unsteady low-Re flows.


Holger Babinsky graduated with a distinction in Aerospace Engineering from Stuttgart University in Germany. He obtained a PhD in hypersonic aerodynamics from Cranfield University (UK) in 1994. After 18 months as Research Associate at the Shock Wave Research Centre of Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan he returned to the UK to take up a position at the University of Cambridge. He is now Professor of Aerodynamics as well as a Fellow at Magdalene College. His research is concerned with fundamental and applied aerodynamics with application to aeronautics, road vehicles and energy production. Particular focus areas are shock-wave/boundary-layer interactions in transonic and supersonic flows, flapping wing aerodynamics and road vehicle aerodynamics. His research is predominantly experimental but includes theoretical and numerical studies, often in collaboration with other groups across the globe.

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