April 01, 2017

Visualization of three-dimensional structures shed by an oscillating beam

  • Agarwal A.
  • Jeffers N.
  • Nolan K.
  • Stafford J.

Piezoelectric fans have been studied extensively and are seen as a promising technology for thermal management due to their ability to provide quiet, reliable cooling with low power consumption. The fluid mechanics of an unconfined piezoelectric fan are complex which is why the majority of the literature to date confines the fan in an attempt to simplify the flow field. This paper investigates the fluid mechanics of an unconfined fan operating in its first vibration frequency mode. The piezoelectric fan used in this study measures 12.7mm x 70mm and resonates at 92.5Hz in air. A custom built experimental facility was developed to capture the fan's flow field using phase locked Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). The phase locked PIV results are presented in terms of vorticity and show the formation of a horse shoe vortex. A three dimensional lambda-2 criterion constructed from interpolated PIV measurements was used to identify the vortex core in the vicinity of the fan. In addition to the experiments, three-dimensional simulations of an oscillating beam were performed and the lambda-2 structures visualised. This analysis was used to clearly identify the formation of a horse shoe vortex that turns into a hairpin vortex before it breaks up due to a combination of vortex shedding and flow along the fan blade. The results presented in this paper contribute to the fluid dynamics literature concerning first mode fan oscillation.

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