Internal Report

Models of porous, elastic and rigid materials in moving fluids

Author Document Type Year Download File size
Ugis Lacis Doctoral thesis 2016 Download 2.6MB
ISSN 0348-467X


Tails, fins, scales, and surface coatings are used by organisms for various tasks, including locomotion. Since millions of years of evolution have passed, we expect that the design of surface structures is optimal for the tasks of the organism. These structures serve as an inspiration in this thesis to identify new mechanisms for flow control. There are two general categories of fluid-structure-interaction mechanisms. The first is active interaction, where an organism actively moves parts of the body or its entire body in order to modify the surrounding flow field (e.g., birds flapping their wings). The second is passive interaction, where appendages or surface textures are not actively controlled by the organism and hence no energy is spent (e.g., feathers passively moving in the surrounding flow). Our aim is to find new passive mechanisms that interact with surrounding fluids in favourable ways; for example, to increase lift and to decrease drag.

In the first part of this work, we investigate a simple model of an appendage (splitter plate) behind a bluff body (circular cylinder or sphere). If the plate is sufficiently short and there is a recirculation region behind the body, the straight position of the appendage becomes unstable, similar to how a straight vertical position of an inverted pendulum is unstable under gravity. We explain and characterize this instability using computations, experiments and a reduced-order model. The consequences of this instability are reorientation (turn) of the body and passive dispersion (drift with respect to the direction of the gravity). The observed mechanism could serve as a means to enhance locomotion and dispersion for various motile animals and non-motile seeds.

In the second part of this thesis, we look into effective models of porous and poroelastic materials. We use the method of homogenization via multi-scale expansion to model a poroelastic medium with a continuum field. In particular, we derive boundary conditions for the velocity and the pressure at the interface between the free fluid and the porous or poroelastic material. The results obtained using the derived boundary conditions are then validated with respect to direct numerical simulations (DNS) in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional settings. The continuum model – coupled with the necessary boundary conditions – gives accurate predictions for both the flow field and the displacement field when compared to DNS.