Published in PLoS ONE, May 8, 2015.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0124824.
The aerodynamic features of a bio-realistic 3D fruit fly wing in steady state (snapshot) flight conditions were analyzed numerically. The wing geometry was created from high resolution micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) of the fruit fly Drosophila virilis. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analyses of the wing were conducted at ultra-low Reynolds numbers ranging from 71 to 200, and at angles of attack ranging from -10° to +30°. It was found that in the 3D bio-realistc model, the corrugations of the wing created localized circulation regions in the flow field, most notably at higher angles of attack near the wing tip. Analyses of a simplified flat wing geometry showed higher lift to drag performance values for any given angle of attack at these Reynolds numbers, though very similar performance is noted at -10°. Results have indicated that the simplified flat wing can successfully be used to approximate high-level properties such as aerodynamic coefficients and overall performance trends as well as large flow-field structures. However, local pressure peaks and near-wing flow features induced by the corrugations are unable to be replicated by the simple wing. We therefore recommend that accurate 3D bio-realistic geometries be used when modelling insect wings where such information is useful.
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