Journal of Bionic Engineering

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 770–780 | Cite as

Experimental and Numerical Study of Penguin Mode Flapping Foil Propulsion System for Ships

  • Naga Praveen Babu Mannam
  • Parameswaran Krishnankutty
  • Harikrishnan Vijayakumaran
  • Richards Chizhuthanickel Sunny


The use of biomimetic tandem flapping foils for ships and underwater vehicles is considered as a unique and interesting concept in the area of marine propulsion. The flapping wings can be used as a thrust producing, stabilizer and control devices which has both propulsion and maneuvering applications for marine vehicles. In the present study, the hydrodynamic performance of a pair of flexible flapping foils resembling penguin flippers is studied. A ship model of 3 m in length is fitted with a pair of counter flapping foils at its bottom mid-ship region. Model tests are carried out in a towing tank to estimate the propulsive performance of flapping foils in bollard and self propulsion modes. The same tests are performed in a numerical environment using a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software. The numerical and experimental results show reasonably good agreement in both bollard pull and self propulsion trials. The numerical studies are carried out on flexible flapping hydrofoil in unsteady conditions using moving unstructured grids. The efficiency and force coefficients of the flexible flapping foils are determined and presented as a function of Strouhal number.


biomimetic propulsion flapping foil penguin locomotion Strouhal number tandem arrangement thrust coefficient 



Instantaneous angle of attack


Maximum angle of attack

Instantaneous sway velocity



Average power coefficient


Average thrust coefficient


Average thrust

Average power


Drag force


Resultant force


Dynamic viscosity of fluid


Circular flapping frequency


Phase difference between sway and yaw


Instantaneous yaw angle


Yaw amplitude


Fluid density

(x, y)

Effective flexible motion coordinates of centerline


Conservative scalar quantity


Characteristic width of flapping hydrofoil


Sway amplitude


Chord length of the hydrofoil


Force coefficients corresponding to FX, FY


Moment coefficient


Flapping frequency


Forces in x and y directions


Lift force


Moment due to lift and drag forces






Reynolds number


Span of the hydrofoil


Strouhal number




Non-dimensional time


Flapping period


Frees stream velocity


Control volume


Instantaneous sway position


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Copyright information

© Jilin University 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naga Praveen Babu Mannam
    • 1
  • Parameswaran Krishnankutty
    • 1
  • Harikrishnan Vijayakumaran
    • 1
  • Richards Chizhuthanickel Sunny
    • 2
  1. 1.Ocean EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology MadrasChennaiIndia
  2. 2.Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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