Lift generation of an elliptical airfoil at a reynolds number of 1000

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Bumblebees cannot fly! That conclusion is likely to be drawn by scientists who analysed the insect using aerodynamics of stationary wings such as that of a passenger aircraft. Looking at the insect again using a newfound understanding of unsteady aerodynamics; it is clear why bumblebees can fly. Bumblebees utilise mechanisms behind unsteady aerodynamics such as leading-edge vortices (LEVs) formation, wake capture, and rapid end-of-stroke rotation to generate forces that enable the insect to fly. This study focuses on two-dimensional (2D) elliptical airfoil. Earlier works found the aerodynamic characteristics of an elliptical airfoil to differ greatly from a conventional airfoil, and that this airfoil shape could generate the counter-rotating vortices used by insects to generate lift. Therefore, this research aims to study the lift generation of a bumblebee-inspired elliptical airfoil in a normal hovering flight. This study focuses on hovering flight with the insect flies in a nearly stationary position, which explains the importance of lift generation to stay aloft. The motion of the elliptical airfoil is inspired by the flapping kinematics of bumblebees at a typical Reynolds number range of Re=O(103). It is found that the current two-dimensional model is capable of capturing the counter-rotating vortices and correlates the formation of these structures to a high production of lift. These results show that bumblebees utilise these counter-rotating vortices to generate lift enough to fly in hovering flight. This results also indicate that flapping 2D elliptical airfoils can be used to investigate their 3D wing counterparts, which translate to a reduced time and computing costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6738-6752
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Bumblebee wings
  • Counter-rotating vortex
  • Elliptical airfoil
  • Flapping wing
  • Lift generation


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