The goal of this CAREER is to investigate the unsteady flow around the flapping wings of an owl and to uncover the relationship between fluid dynamics phenomena and the unique configuration of the owl wings that is responsible for the silent flight of owls. The results of this research could have an impact on the design of silent air vehicles with application in national defense, in commerce and in transportation (an area of national need).
It is proposed to use high fidelity computations to understand the effects of the wing microstructure and of the way the wing flaps on sound generation. The specific research objectives are to: (1) develop numerical methods to identify the true sources of aerodynamically generated sound, (2) investigate the unique feather adaptations (the "hush kit") of the owl that enable its silent flight, and (3) adapt the owl hush kit to develop ultra-quiet Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and jet engines. In addition to graduate and undergraduate student training, there are plans to develop a new outreach program with the local museum (the Science Center at Iowa) and to connect the students with the industry.