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Hydromechanics of swimming propulsion. Part 2. Some optimum shape problems

Abstract

The optimum shape problems considered in this part are for those profiles of a two-dimensional flexible plate in time-harmonic motion that will minimize the energy loss under the condition of fixed thrust and possibly also under other isoperimetric constraints. First, the optimum movement of a rigid plate is completely determined; it is necessary first to reduce the original singular quadratic form representing the energy loss to a regular one of a lower order, which is then tractable by usual variational methods. A favourable range of the reduced frequency is found in which the thrust contribution coming from the leading-edge suction is as small as possible under the prescribed conditions, outside of which this contribution becomes so large as to be hard to realize in practice without stalling. This optimum solution is compared with the recent theory of Lighthill (1970); these independently arrived-at conclusions are found to be virtually in agreement. The present theory is further applied t0 predict the movement of a porpoise tail of large aspect-ratio and is found in satisfactory agreement with the experimental measurements. A qualitative discussion of the wing movement in flapping flight of birds is also given on the basis of optimum efficiency. The optimum shape of a flexible plate is analysed for the most general case of infinite degrees of freedom. It is shown that the solution can be determined to a certain extent, but the exact shape is not always uniquely determinate

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