The effect of variable stiffness of tuna-like fish body and fin on swimming performance

Yang Luo, Qing Xiao, Guangyu Shi, Guang Pan, Daoyi Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


The work in this paper focuses on the examination of the effect of variable stiffness distributions on the kinematics and propulsion performance of a tuna-like swimmer. This is performed with the use of a recently developed fully coupled fluid-structure interaction solver. The two different scenarios considered in the present study are the stiffness varied along the fish body and the caudal fin, respectively. Our results show that it is feasible to replicate the similar kinematics and propulsive capability to that of the real fish via purely passive structural deformations. In addition, propulsion performance improvement is mainly dependent on the better orientation of the force near the posterior part of swimmers towards the thrust direction. Specifically, when a variable body stiffness scenario is considered, the bionic body stiffness profile results in better performance in most cases studied herein compared with a uniform stiffness commonly investigated in previous studies. Given the second scenario, where the stiffness is varied only in the spanwise direction of the tail, similar tail kinematics to that of the live scombrid fish only occurs in association with the heterocercal flexural rigidity profile. The resulting asymmetric tail conformation also yields performance improvement at intermediate stiffness in comparison to the cupping and uniform stiffness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number016003
Number of pages23
JournalBioinspiration & Biomimetics
Issue number1
Early online date28 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2020


  • computational fluid dynamics
  • fish locomotion
  • bio-inspired tuna-like swimmer
  • fluid-structure interaction


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