Not a drag: breakthrough will create cleaner, faster planes

Jul 09, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A world first model for predicting fluid flows close to surfaces will enable engineers to reduce drag in vehicles, and in turn, lead to more efficient and greener planes, cars and boats, according to a University of Melbourne study.

Research team leader and Federation Fellow Professor Ivan Marusic from the Department of at the University of Melbourne says skin-friction drag accounts for 50 per cent of fuel expenditure in aircraft, so even modest reductions in drag would save money and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

“When air flows over a surface, skin friction drag is created. Most of this drag is a result of the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the - the layer immediately between the object and the . Accurate knowledge of how this air flows over a surface will provide engineers with more detailed information about resistance,” he says.

The findings, published in Science this week, could also assist meteorologists in making more accurate weather predictions, and even improve a cyclist’s lap time.

Explore further: Seeking 'absolute zero', copper cube gets chillingly close

More information: Predictive Model for Wall-Bounded Turbulent Flow, Science 9 July 2010: Vol. 329. no. 5988, pp. 193 - 196. DOI: 10.1126/science.1188765

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA Know-How Helps Athletes Rocket Through Water

Feb 12, 2008

When a swimsuit manufacturer wanted to create a better fabric for competitive swimmers, it sought out some unlikely experts -- aerospace engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton.

Engineer devises ways to improve gas mileage

Mar 16, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Last summer, it was very expensive to fill up a gas tank when the gasoline price hit close to four dollars a gallon. Transportation by road or air consumes fuel, which not only increases our vulnerability ...

Automated tailgating cuts pollution

Jul 12, 2007

An automated way of allowing cars to drive much closer to each other in heavy moving traffic, so-called platooning, could cut congestion, save fuel and cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to research published today in ...

Recommended for you

Cooling with molecules

7 hours ago

An international team of scientists have become the first ever researchers to successfully reach temperatures below minus 272.15 degrees Celsius – only just above absolute zero – using magnetic molecules. ...

Backpack physics: Smaller hikers carry heavier loads

Oct 21, 2014

Hikers are generally advised that the weight of the packs they carry should correspond to their own size, with smaller individuals carrying lighter loads. Although petite backpackers might appreciate the ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jeffhans
5 / 5 (2) Jul 09, 2010
Anything that applies to reducing the friction for aircraft will also apply to ground vehicles to a lesser but still significant extent.
thermodynamics
not rated yet Jul 09, 2010
There are also applications where I would like to be able to maximize friction and turbulence for improved heat transfer. I am interested in the technique they have developed to see if it will help me minimize convective boundary layers and improve heat transfer. If that can be done it could be another important application for this approach.
Jigga
5 / 5 (1) Jul 10, 2010
..breakthrough will create cleaner, faster planes...
This is indeed completely true ;-) But was such a breakthrough achieved in the article presented? If not - why to cheat the readers with such headlines?
StandingBear
5 / 5 (1) Jul 23, 2010
boundary layer flow has always been approximated in engineering classes and in practice. Here one rapidly gets into partial differential equations in three dimensions and higher orders, and in unstable flow. Most of this work is in water regimes. Now if some of these problems could be modeled and solutions, even empirical solutions, found, the results would be profound. think submarines that can go much faster....and aircraft that do not need as much temperature shielding, such as shuttles and capsules. this also has implications for hypersonic flow regimes, even inside the engines. In fact, especially inside the engines.
thermodynamics
not rated yet Jul 23, 2010
StandingBear: Good post. However, the part about "aircraft that do not need as much temperature shielding" is not correct. Most people think that the heating of vehicles coming in from space is due to friction but it is actually a thermodynamic effect of ram pressure. This will help a lot of things, but not the buildup of ram pressure and shock heating.