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Aerodynamics of the Maple Seed

Purpose - The paper presents a theoretical framework that describes the aerodynamics of a falling maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) seed. --- Methodology - A semi-empirical method is developed that provides a ratio stating how much longer a seed falls in air compared to freefall. The generated lift is calculated by evaluating the integral of two-dimensional airfoil elements using a preliminary falling speed. This allows for the calculation of the definitive falling speed using Blade Element Momentum Theory (BEMT); hereafter, the fall duration in air and in freefall are obtained. Furthermore, the input-variables of the calculation of lift are transformed to require only the length and width of the maple seed. Lastly, the method is applied to two calculation examples as a means of validation. --- Findings - The two example calculations gave percentual errors of 5.5% and 3.7% for the falling speed when compared to measured values. The averaged result is that a maple seed falls 9.9 times longer in air when released from 20 m; however, this result is highly dependent on geometrical parameters which can be accounted for using the constructed method. --- Research limitations - Firstly, the coefficient of lift is unknown for the shape of a maple seed. Secondly, the approximated transient state is yet to be verified by measurement. --- Originality / Value - The added value of this report lies in the reduction of simplifications compared to BEMT approaches. In this way a large amount of accuracy is achieved due to the inclusion of many geometrical parameters, even though simplicity is maintained. This has been accomplished through constructing a simple three-step method that is fundamental and essentially non-iterative.
Date January 2019
CreatorsDesenfans, Philip
ContributorsScholz, Dieter
PublisherAircraft Design and Systems Group (AERO), Department of Automotive and Aeronautical Engineering, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences,
Source SetsHamburg Universtiy of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg)
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeText, Project, doc-type:text, doc-type:studyThesis, info:eu-repo/semantics/report, status-type:publishedVersion, info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion
CoverageHamburg, Germany
RightsCopyright by author, CC BY-NC-SA,, info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
RelationDigital Library - Projects & Theses - Prof. Dr. Scholz,

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