Tip vortices formation and evolution of rotating wings at low Reynolds numbers

Chengyu Li, Haibo Dong, Bo Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The wake structures generated by rotating wings are studied numerically to investigate the complex vortex formation and evolution in both near-wake and far-wake regions. Flat rectangular wings with finite aspect ratios (AR = 1-8) that rotate from rest at an angle of attack ranging from 15° to 90° in a low Reynolds number regime (200-1600) are considered. Simulations were carried out using an in-house immersed-boundary-method-based incompressible flow solver. A detailed analysis of the vortex formation showed that the general wake pattern near the wingtip shifted from a single vortex loop to a pair of counter-rotating vortex loops with the enhancement of the leading-edge vortex (LEV) strength. Specifically, a stronger LEV due to the high angles of attack or high aspect ratios can induce an enhanced counter-pair trailing-edge vortex (TEV). As the TEV intensifies, a secondary tip vortex will be generated at the bottom corner of the wingtip, regardless of the wing geometry. This forms a pair of counter-rotating vortex loops around the wingtip. This type of wingtip vortex formation and evolution are found to be universal for the range of angle of attack and aspect ratio investigated. In addition to the vortex formation, surface pressure distribution and aerodynamic performance are also discussed. The findings from this work could help advance the fundamental understanding in the vortex dynamics of finite-aspect ratio rotating wings at a high angle of attack (>15°).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021905
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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