Experiments in Fluids

, 59:64 | Cite as

Unsteady force estimation using a Lagrangian drift-volume approach

  • Cameron J. McPhadenEmail author
  • David E. Rival
Research Article


A novel Lagrangian force estimation technique for unsteady fluid flows has been developed, using the concept of a Darwinian drift volume to measure unsteady forces on accelerating bodies. The construct of added mass in viscous flows, calculated from a series of drift volumes, is used to calculate the reaction force on an accelerating circular flat plate, containing highly-separated, vortical flow. The net displacement of fluid contained within the drift volumes is, through Darwin’s drift-volume added-mass proposition, equal to the added mass of the plate and provides the reaction force of the fluid on the body. The resultant unsteady force estimates from the proposed technique are shown to align with the measured drag force associated with a rapid acceleration. The critical aspects of understanding unsteady flows, relating to peak and time-resolved forces, often lie within the acceleration phase of the motions, which are well-captured by the drift-volume approach. Therefore, this Lagrangian added-mass estimation technique opens the door to fluid-dynamic analyses in areas that, until now, were inaccessible by conventional means.



The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Ontario Graduate Scholarship and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MP4 15087 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Materials EngineeringQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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