Aeroelastic study of flexible flapping wings by a coupled lattice Boltzmann-finite element approach with immersed boundary method

Alessandro De Rosis, Giacomo Falcucci, Stefano Ubertini, Francesco Ubertini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, the behavior of two-dimensional symmetric flapping wings moving in a viscous fluid is investigated. Harmonic motion is applied to idealize flying organisms with flexible wings and extensive testing is carried out to investigate the resultant flight behavior related to the ability to take-off or accelerate the flapping wing system away from a starting location. Special attention is paid to analyze the effect of the main mechanical parameters, as well as the effect of lateral wind on flight performances. Moreover, aiming to investigate the possible benefits of flying in flocks, a couple of synchronously flapping wings is considered in addition to the single arrangement. The numerical simulations are performed by solving the fluid-structure interaction problem through a strongly coupled partitioned approach. Fluid dynamics are modeled at the mesoscopic scale by the lattice Boltzmann method. The resulting macroscopic quantities are derived, as usual, based on the statistical molecular-level interpretation. Wings are modeled by geometrically nonlinear, elastic beam finite elements and structure dynamics is solved by the time discontinuous Galerkin method. Fluid-structure interface conditions are handled using the immersed boundary method. The resultant numerical approach combines simplicity and high computational efficiency. A Monte Carlo simulation strategy is employed to characterize the flight behavior subjected to lateral wind. Various scenarios are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-533
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Flapping wings
  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Immersed boundary
  • Lattice Boltzmann method


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