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MIT: Insights on fluid flow could impact fuel efficiency

September 29, 2008 · · Filed Under Science 

Source: MIT News

As a car accelerates up and down a hill then slows to follow a hairpin turn, the airflow around it cannot keep up and detaches from the vehicle. This aerodynamic separation creates additional drag that slows the car and forces the engine to work harder. The same phenomenon affects airplanes, boats, submarines, and even your golf ball.

Now, in work that could lead to ways of controlling the effect with potential impacts on fuel efficiency and more, MIT scientists and colleagues have reported new mathematical and experimental work for predicting where that aerodynamic separation will occur.

The research solves “a century-old problem in the field of fluid mechanics,” or the study of how fluids — which for scientists include gases and liquids — move, said George Haller, a visiting professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Haller’s group developed the new theory, while Thomas Peacock, the Atlantic Richfield Career Development Associate Professor in the same department, led the experimental effort.

Read the rest…

Hat-tip: William Briggs

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