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Falling, flapping, flying, swimming,... : high-Re fluid-solid interactions with vortex shedding


The coupling between the motion of a solid body and the dynamics of the surrounding flow is essential to the understanding of a large number of engineering and physical problems, from the stability of a slender structure exposed to the wind to the locomotion of insects, birds and fishes. Because of the strong coupling on a moving boundary of the equations for the solid and fluid, the simulation of such problems is computationally challenging and expensive. This justifies the development of simplified models for the fluid-solid interactions to study their physical properties and behavior. This dissertation proposes a reduced-order model for the interaction of a sharp-edged solid body with a strongly unsteady high Reynolds number flow. In such a case, viscous forces in the fluid are often negligible compared to the fluid inertia or the pressure forces, and the thin boundary layers separate from the solid at the edges, leading to the shedding of large and persistent vortices in the solid's wake. A general two-dimensional framework is presented based on complex potential flow theory. The formation of the solid's vortical wake is accounted for by the shedding of point vortices with unsteady intensity from the solid's sharp edges, and the fluid-solid problem is reformulated exclusively as a solid-vortex interaction problem. In the case of a rigid solid body, the coupled problem is shown to reduce to a set of non-linear ordinary differential equations. This model is used to study the effect of vortex shedding on the stability of falling objects. The solid-vortex model is then generalized to study the fluttering instability and non-linear flapping dynamics of flexible plates or flags. The fluttering instability and resulting flapping motion result from the competing effects of the fluid forcing and of the solid's flexural rigidity and inertia. Finally, the solid-vortex model is applied to the study of the fundamental effect of bending rigidity on the flapping performance of flapping appendages such as insect wings or fish fins

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