A mass-spring fluid-structure interaction solver: Application to flexible revolving wings

Hung Truong, Thomas Engels, Dmitry Kolomenskiy, Kai Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The secret to the spectacular flight capabilities of flapping insects lies in their wings, which are often approximated as flat, rigid plates. Real wings are however delicate structures, composed of veins and membranes, and can undergo significant deformation. In the present work, we present detailed numerical simulations of such deformable wings. Our results are obtained with a fluid–structure interaction solver, coupling a mass–spring model for the flexible wing with a pseudo-spectral code solving the incompressible Navier–Stokes equations. We impose the no-slip boundary condition through the volume penalization method; the time-dependent complex geometry is then completely described by a mask function. This allows solving the governing equations of the fluid on a regular Cartesian grid. Our implementation for massively parallel computers allows us to perform high resolution computations with up to 500 million grid points. The mass–spring model uses a functional approach, thus modeling the different mechanical behaviors of the veins and the membranes of the wing. We perform a series of numerical simulations of a flexible revolving bumblebee wing at a Reynolds number Re=1800. In order to assess the influence of wing flexibility on the aerodynamics, we vary the elasticity parameters and study rigid, flexible and highly flexible wing models. Code validation is carried out by computing classical benchmarks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104426
JournalComputers and Fluids
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Fluid–structure interaction
  • Insect flight
  • Mass–spring model
  • Spectral method
  • Volume penalization method
  • Wing elasticity


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