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Characterizing Thrust Performance for Free and Confined Oscillating Cantilevers

Eastman, Andrew S (2014) Characterizing Thrust Performance for Free and Confined Oscillating Cantilevers. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although not identical to the motion employed by nature’s swimmers and flyers, the simple harmonic oscillations of cantilever-like structures have been shown to provide efficient low power solutions for applications ranging from thermal management to propulsion. However, in order to quantify their true potential, the resulting flow field and corresponding thrust must be better understood. In this experimental work, thin, flexible cantilevers vibrating in their fundamental mode are analyzed in terms of the flow field produced and the thrust generated. The actuation is achieved via a piezoelectric patch mounted near its base. An oscillating voltage tuned to the first resonance of the structure causes vibrations at the free end of the cantilever. The flow field is experimentally measured using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). Two dimensional flow fields are extracted from multiple x-y and y-z planes, and revealed that inward flow occurs upstream as well as above and below the flat face of the cantilever. It was also found that there is a net inward volumetric flow at the corners of the cantilever. Observing the flow off the tip of the fan lead to the finding that the dominant flow velocity occurs not at the center of the fan, but at the midpoints between the center and each edge. The flow field data are primarily used to motivate future geometry, and boundary configurations that could greatly enhance the thrust capabilities of the cantilever by directing the flow downstream in a more effective manner. The thrust produced was experimentally measured using a high resolution scale. Clear trends were observed and correlations developed to help predict the thrust as a function of the operating parameters including the cantilever geometry and vibration amplitude and frequency. Attempts at shaping the flow were investigated by introducing sidewalls on both sides of the oscillating cantilever. The sidewall boundary condition was tested with thrust performance and power consumption in mind, and it was found that the position of the tip on the cantilever in relation to the edge of the sidewall has an effect on power consumption that is dramatic and incongruent with what one would expect. This research provides the critical experimental analysis to gauge the viability of using simple and energy efficient actuation from cantilever-like structures in place of more complicated solutions which attempt to maintain a higher degree of biomimicry.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Eastman, Andrew Sase8@pitt.eduASE8
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKimber, Markmlk53@pitt.eduMLK53
Committee MemberChyu, Ming Kingmkchyu@pitt.eduMKCHYU
Committee MemberSchaefer, Lauralas149@pitt.eduLAS149
Committee MemberJana,
Date: 30 January 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 November 2013
Approval Date: 30 January 2014
Submission Date: 26 November 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 147
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Mechanical Engineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: thrust performance, cantilever, flow field analysis, piezoelectric, vortex, vorticity
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2014 14:12
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:15


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