Fluid-structure interaction modeling on a 3D ray-strengthened caudal fin

Guangyu Shi, Qing Xiao, Qiang Zhu, Wei Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper, we present a numerical model capable of solving the fluid-structure interaction problems involved in the dynamics of skeleton-reinforced fish fins. In this model, the fluid dynamics is simulated by solving the Navier-Stokes equations using a finite-volume method based on an overset, multi-block structured grid system. The bony rays embedded in the fin are modeled as nonlinear Euler-Bernoulli beams. To demonstrate the capability of this model, we numerically investigate the effect of various ray stiffness distributions on the deformation and propulsion performance of a 3D caudal fin. Our numerical results show that with specific ray stiffness distributions, certain caudal fin deformation patterns observed in real fish (e.g. the cupping deformation) can be reproduced through passive structural deformations. Among the four different stiffness distributions (uniform, cupping, W-shape and heterocercal) considered here, we find that the cupping distribution requires the least power expenditure. The uniform distribution, on the other hand, performs the best in terms of thrust generation and efficiency. The uniform stiffness distribution, per se, also leads to 'cupping' deformation patterns with relatively smaller phase differences between various rays. The present model paves the way for future work on dynamics of skeleton-reinforced membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036012
Number of pages20
JournalBioinspiration & Biomimetics
Issue number3
Early online date14 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2019


  • numerical modelling
  • fluid structure interaction
  • fish fins


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