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The locomotion of a flapping flexible plate in a viscous incompressible stationary fluid is numerically studied by an immersed boundary-lattice Boltzmann method for the fluid and a finite element method for the plate. When the leading-edge of the flexible plate is forced to heave sinusoidally, the entire plate starts to move freely as a result of the fluid-structure interaction. Mechanisms underlying the dynamics of the plate are elucidated. Three distinct states of the plate motion are identified and can be described as forward, backward, and irregular. Which state to occur depends mainly on the heaving amplitude and the bending rigidity of the plate. In the forward motion regime, analysis of the dynamic behaviors of the flapping flexible plate indicates that a suitable degree of flexibility can improve the propulsive performance. Moreover, there exist two kinds of vortex streets in the downstream of the plate which are normal and deflected wake. Further the forward motion is compared with the flapping-based locomotion of swimming and flying animals. The results obtained in the present study are found to be consistent with the relevant observations and measurements and can provide some physical insights into the understanding of the propulsive mechanisms of swimming and flying animals.


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Scitation: Locomotion of a flapping flexible plate