Adaptive compliant structures for flow regulation

Gaetano Arena*, Rainer M.J. Groh, Alex Brinkmeyer, Raf Theunissen, Paul M. Weaver, Alberto Pirrera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)
370 Downloads (Pure)


This paper introduces conceptual design principles for a novel class of adaptive structures that provide both flow regulation and control. While of general applicability, these design principles, which revolve around the idea of using the instabilities and elastically nonlinear behaviour of post-buckled panels, are exemplified through a case study: the design of a shape-adaptive air inlet. The inlet comprises a deformable post-buckled member that changes shape depending on the pressure field applied by the surrounding fluid, thereby regulating the inlet aperture. By tailoring the stress field in the post-buckled state and the geometry of the initial, stress-free configuration, the deformable section can snap through to close or open the inlet completely. Owing to its inherent ability to change shape in response to external stimuli-i.e. the aerodynamic loads imposed by different operating conditions-the inlet does not have to rely on linkages and mechanisms for actuation, unlike conventional flow-controlling devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170334
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2204
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Adaptive structures
  • Air inlet
  • Buckling
  • Morphing
  • Multistability
  • Post-buckling


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