Flow dynamics of a dandelion pappus: A linear stability approach

The study and control of flow instabilities is a key problem in aerodynamics. Aircrafts are designed not only to generate the lift force needed to balance their weight but, more importantly, to be stable and reasonably steady when in cruise conditions. Similar flow stability properties are naturally achieved by biological flying objects such as the dandelion seeds that are transported by the wind owing to a disklike structure called a pappus. The pappus creates a parachute flow configuration and is a remarkable prototype of how the wake, which would be unsteady if the pappus was completely impermeable, can be stabilized by changing the body structure so as to allow the flow to pass through. We approach the problem using the approximation of an anisotropic and nonhomogeneous rigid porous disk, combined with the linear stability analysis technique. The results show the presence of a mean porosity threshold beyond which the flow is always characterized by a separated, steady, and axisymmetric recirculating vortex ring. We compare our results with those of real dandelion pappi. The threshold is very close to the experimentally observed values of porosity, explaining why the morphology of the pappus promotes a steady wake regime.

Published in:
Physical Review Fluids, 4, 7
Jul 02 2019

 Record created 2019-07-04, last modified 2019-07-08

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