CREATe Colloquium Series – Dr. Holger Babinsky

Please join us for a reception and seminar presented by Dr. Holger Babinsky! Details in post!

Unsteady Lift generation at low-Reynolds numbers/Introduction to flapping wing aerodynamics

Dr. Holger Babinsky

CREATe Colloquium Series

11:00am Thursday April 20th, McBryde 655

Reception in McBryde 660 at 10:30am


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, Tutor, and Director of Studies at Magdalene College. His main areas of research are in the field of experimental aerodynamics and associated measurement techniques. Apart from shock wave/boundary layer interactions which he has studied for more than 20 years his current research includes the aerodynamics of micro-air vehicles, Formula 1 racing cars, wind turbines and flow control for transonic aircraft wings and supersonic engine inlets. He is Head of the Fluids Group in the engineering department, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, an Associate Fellow of the AIAA and a member of several RTO advisory groups.

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