Experiments in Fluids

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 511–517 | Cite as

On the stabilization of leading-edge vortices with spanwise flow

  • Heather R. Beem
  • David E. Rival
  • Michael S. Triantafyllou
Research Article


The influence of spanwise flow on the development and stabilization of leading-edge vortices (LEVs) on a foil (without rotational acceleration) has been investigated. The plunging swept wing/fin geometry used in this study, characteristic of fish-like tails, has been found to be insufficient in the stabilization of LEVs. Direct force measurements and visualizations, including Particle Image Velocimetry and lead precipitation, show that despite the presence of a strong spanwise flow at higher sweepback angles, the vortex breaks off and convects downstream at the same relative time as found for low sweepback angles, which experience little spanwise contribution. Although the LEV stabilization is insensitive to bulk spanwise flow, the LEV and tip vortex have been observed to maintain a stronger connection with one another at higher sweepback angles. This result implies that despite similar forces developing for low and high sweepback angles alike, the resulting vortex-wake topologies can vary significantly from one another.


Vortex Vorticity Particle Image Velocimetry Vortex Line Particle Image Velocimetry Measurement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank J. Dahl for his advice regarding the force measurements and lead precipitation visualizations. Also the authors are grateful for the insight and encouragement provided by H. Babinsky on this topic.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather R. Beem
    • 1
  • David E. Rival
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael S. Triantafyllou
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing EngineeringUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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