Not a drag: breakthrough will create cleaner, faster planes

July 9, 2010

( -- 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: Probing Question: How do dimples make golf balls travel farther?

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

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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.
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.
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?
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.
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.

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