Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shark Skin Design - Reduce Drag - Improve Energy Efficiency

Dr. Amy Lang

Dr. Amy Lang Tests Sharkskin Inspired Surface

Sharkskin inspired swimsuits are helping swimmers at the 2008 Olympics set new records. Can this biomimetic design help airliners reduce drag? That is what Dr. Amy Lang is going to find out. Backed by a grant from the Lindbergh Foundation, Dr. Lang is researching “Reducing the Drag Over Aircraft by Mimicking the Surface Geometry of Bristled Shark Skin Scales”.

If this technology works for sharks, swimmers and airliners, it should also work for cars, boats and anything that moves through a viscous fluid.

From the Lindbergh Foundation Website:

With her Lindbergh Grant, Dr. Lang will determine whether the surface texture on the skin of fast-swimming sharks, potentially capable of bristling their scales when in pursuit of prey, could be mimicked and used to reduce the drag on aircraft. She will perform water tunnel experiments to measure the flow over and within a bristled sharkskin model (2 cm size scales), which achieves similarity with real sharkskin (0.2 mm size scales) Lang Labby a corresponding scale down in velocity of the experiments. She will also obtain drag measurements over a sharkskin model in a Couette flow facility containing high viscosity oil. Her objective is to reveal the boundary layer control mechanisms of the bristled sharkskin to deduce the means by which sharks minimize their drag. Dr. Lang’s project has the potential to reduce aircraft drag by 30%, once the technology is refined and implemented, greatly reducing the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels, reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and costs.

Check Out the Lindbergh Flyer

Check Out: Sustainable Design Update

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