Sunday, May 29, 2011

Drag On Hot Bodies Moving Through Liquid Can Be Radically Reduced By Up To 85%

A Swinburne University professor was part of a team that showed that drag on hot bodies moving through liquid can be radically reduced by up to 85 percent, potentially doubling their speed.

 Hot bodies no drag
Credit: Swinburne University

In an experiment highlighted by the world's top physics journal, Physical Review Letters, researchers Ivan Vakarelski and Derek Chan observed that a heated ball can fall through liquid more than twice as fast as a colder, ‘control' ball.

The discovery exploits the drag-reducing properties of a vapour layer formed between a hot body and surrounding liquid, known as the Leidenfrost effect.

"A very hot body - hot enough to vaporise the thin layer of liquid in contact with it - can drastically reduce energy-sapping drag forces when such bodies travel at high speed through the liquid", said Swinburne physicist Professor Derek Chan.

This is a novel application of the familiar phenomenon where water drops are observed to dance or ‘levitate' around when splashed onto a very hot plate; known for over 200 years as the Leidenfrost effect.

Partly funded by the Australian Research Council, the research was purely fundamental in nature, but may have potential military applications.

Chan - an already distinguished ARC principal investigator working in the area of surface science at the nano-scale - stressed the genesis of the discovery was motivated by novel science.

"This is a novel use of an idea that has been around for over 200 years. We did not set out to do the research with any particular application in mind. We were just curious about a new possibility. But we welcome technologists taking it on and developing it further."

However he conceded it could have military applications, such as helping to make submarines, torpedoes and even sea-launched missiles drastically swifter for short periods.

"But this is really very fundamental research and I see the possibility of broader applications in efficient energy usage. For example allowing marine vehicles to travel faster and further for the same amount of energy or power, and ultimately contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Chan was part of the discovery team that published the paper, ‘Drag Reduction by Leidenfrost Vapor Layers,' with researchers Dr Ivan Vakarelski, Professor Sigurdur Thoroddsen and Dr Jeremy Marston from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.

Contacts and sources:
Crystal Ladiges
Swinburne University

No comments:

Post a Comment