An investigation of the effect of biomimetic tubercles on a flat plate

Alessandro Marino, Mehmet Atlar, Yigit K. Demirel

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This paper describes the investigation, by means of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), of the effect of biomimetic tubercles on the hydrodynamics of a fully submerged flat plate. The application of these tubercles takes inspiration from the features of the humpback whale (Megaptera Novaeangliae). These huge marine mammals are capable of quick and agile movements in the water, despite their bulky bodies. Researchers investigated the causes of this ability by studying some peculiar somatic characteristics of these animals, in particular the tubercles on the leading edge of their pectoral fins. These tubercles were applied in the form of sinusoidal perturbations of the leading edge of wing profiles and foils, and they proved to cause a positive effect on the overall performance. The aim of this paper is to investigate another type of tubercles, which appear in the shape of bumps on the whales head. The effect of these tubercles has not been studied yet, and this paper presents a study on the fundamental phenomena they generate in the water flowing on the surface of a flat plate. The tubercles are modelled as axisymmetric sinusoidal bumps placed on the flat plate. Different combinations of these tubercles are studied, in order to assess what the effect of a single tubercle is, and how more tubercles interact when they are placed closed to each other, in different configurations (number of tubercles and relative position). In addition, a systematic study of the effect of a single row of tubercles spanning perpendicularly to the flow is carried out. The tubercles change systematically in amplitude and position along the plate. One further objective of this paper is to investigate if an optimised application of the biomimetic tubercles can lead to a drag reduction for the flat plate. Preliminary simulations show that the rows of tubercles interact with the boundary layer by modifying the pressure distribution, velocity and direction of the flow. The tubercles appear to generate vortices that are similar to those created by sinusoidal tubercles on the leading edge of foils, which tend to thin the boundary layer. A change in the total drag of the plate with tubercle is also noticeable, which even decreases from the baseline (flat plate with no tubercles), at certain combinations of position and tubercle amplitude.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2019
Event38th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore & Arctic Engineering - Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 Jun 201914 Jun 2019
Conference number: 2019


Conference38th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore & Arctic Engineering
Abbreviated titleOMAE
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • CFD
  • biomimetic tubercles
  • humpback whale

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