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Parametric analysis of a fluttering piezoelectric wing

Claudia Bruni (Department of Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy)
Enrico Cestino (Department of Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy)
Giacomo Frulla (Department of Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 3 May 2016




The purpose of the research activity is to identify the best configuration of piezoelectric (PZT) elements for a typical condition of wing aeroelastic instability. The attention is mainly focused on the flutter behavior of the structure. However, the model can be extended with low-impact adjustments to other loading conditions.


The dynamic system consists of a thin-walled beam, whose longitudinal faces are perfectly bonded by two PZT layers and it is excited by the aerodynamic forces to assume a simple harmonic oscillation motion. The equations of motion are obtained using an energy approach by applying the extended Hamilton principle in conjunction with the Ritz method for modal approximation. The external forces acting on the system are modeled according to the Theodorsen derivation.


The flutter speed and the power generated from flutter oscillations can be increased by acting on the length of the PZT elements. The results show that the model with the beam substrate totally covered by the PZT in its longitudinal direction is more effective for low electrical resistance, whereas for high resistance values, the beam substrate that is partially covered provides the best results. Furthermore, both flutter postponement and energy harvesting functions can be maximized by properly choosing the beam stiffness ratio.

Practical Implications

Depending on the parameter we want to maximize, that is, the flutter speed or the energy harvested, it is possible to identify the best system configuration from the analysis presented in this paper.


The originality of the work appears in the sensitivity study performed on a three-dimensional piezo-aeroelastic fluttering wing, whose optimal behavior in terms of flutter postponement and power generation is analyzed using two distinct parameters, the beam stiffness ratio and the PZT length.



Bruni, C., Cestino, E. and Frulla, G. (2016), "Parametric analysis of a fluttering piezoelectric wing", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 88 No. 3, pp. 382-388.



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