The PELskin project - part I: fluid-structure interaction for a row of flexible flaps: a reference study in oscillating channel flow. Previous studies of flexible flaps attached to the aft part of a cylinder have demonstrated a favourable effect on the drag and lift force fluctuation. This observation is thought to be linked to the excitation of travelling waves along the flaps and as a consequence of that, periodic shedding of the von Kármán vortices is altered in phase. A more general case of such interaction is studied herein for a limited row of flaps in an oscillating flow; representative of the cylinder case since the transversal flow in the wake-region shows oscillating character. This reference case is chosen to qualify recently developed numerical methods for the simulation of fluid–structure interaction in the context of the EU funded ‘PELskin’ project. The simulation of the two-way coupled dynamics of the flexible elements is achieved via a structure model for the flap motion, which was implemented and coupled to two different fluid solvers via the immersed boundary method. The results show the waving behaviour observed at the tips of the flexible elements in interaction with the fluid flow and the formation of vortices in the gaps between the flaps. In addition, formation of vortices upstream of the leading and downstream of the trailing flap is seen, which interact with the formation of the shear-layer on top of the row. This leads to a phase shift in the wave-type motion along the row that resembles the observation in the cylinder case.

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