Energy harvesting performance for a flapping foil device is evaluated to determine how activated leading edge motion affects the aerodynamic forces and the cycle power generated. Results are obtained for a thin flat foil that pitches about the mid-chord and operates in the reduced frequency range of k = fc/U of 0.06–0.10 and Reynolds numbers of 20,000 and 30,000 with a pitching amplitude of 70° and heaving amplitude of h0 = 0.5c. Time resolved data are presented based on direct force measurements and are used to determine overall cycle efficiency and coefficient of power. These results are compared against a panel-based discrete vortex model to predict power production. The model incorporates a leading edge suction parameter predictor for vortex shedding and empirical adjustments to circulatory forces. It is found that the leading edge motions that reduce the effective angle of attack early in a flapping stroke generate larger forces later in the stroke. Consequently, the energy harvesting efficiencies and power coefficients are increased since the generated aerodynamic loads are better synchronized with the foil motion. The efficiency gains are reduced with increasing reduced frequencies.

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