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19 April 2013 Active stiffness modulation of fins using macro fiber composites
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Studies on the role of body flexibility in propulsion suggest that fish have the ability to control or modulate the stiffness of the fin for optimized propulsive performance. Fins with certain stiffness might be efficient for a particular set of operating parameters but may be inefficient for other parameters. Therefore active stiffness modulation of a fin can improve the propulsive performance for a range of operating conditions. This paper discusses the preliminary experimental work on the open loop active deformation control of heaving flexible fins using Macro Fiber Composites (MFCs). The effect of important parameters such as oscillation frequency, flexibility of the fin, applied voltage and the phase difference between applied voltage and heaving on propulsive performance are studied and reported. The results indicate that propulsive performance can be improved by active control of the fins. The mean thrust improved by 30- 38% for the fins used in the experiments. The phase difference of ~90° is found to be optimal for maximized propulsive performance for the parameters considered in the study. Furthermore, there exists an optimal voltage magnitude at which the propulsive performance is a maximum for the range of operating conditions.
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Ashok K. Kancharala and Michael K. Philen "Active stiffness modulation of fins using macro fiber composites", Proc. SPIE 8692, Sensors and Smart Structures Technologies for Civil, Mechanical, and Aerospace Systems 2013, 869212 (19 April 2013);

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