Phase-difference on seal whisker surface induces hairpin vortices in the wake to suppress force oscillation

Bioinspiration & Biomimetics
Geng LiuXudong Zheng


Seals are able to use their uniquely shaped whiskers to track hydrodynamic trails generated 30 s ago and detect hydrodynamic velocities as low as 245 [Formula: see text]m s-1. The high sensibility has long thought to be related to the wavy shape of the whiskers. This work revisited the hydrodynamics of a seal whisker model in a uniform flow, and discovered a new mechanism of seal whiskers in reducing self-induced noises, which is different from the long thought-of effect of the wavy shape. It was reported that the major and minor axes of the elliptical cross-sections of seal whisker are out of phase by approximately 180 degrees. Three-dimensional numerical simulations of laminar flow (Reynolds number range: 150-500) around seal-whisker-like cylinders were performed to examine the effect of the phase-difference on hydrodynamic forces and wake structures. It was found that the phase-difference induced hairpin vortices in the wake over a wide range of geometric and flow parameters (wavelength, wavy amplitude and Reynolds number), therefore substantially reducing lift-oscillations and self-induced noises. The formation mechanism of the hairpin vortices was analyzed and is discussed in details. The results provide valuable insights ...Continue Reading


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