Canadian Ski Team, Manufacturing and the Auto Industry
how are they connected?
One of the most difficult engineering problems to solve revolves around fluid flow. It was first addressed by Daniel Bernoulli and the great Euler. The basic problem goes something like this.
If you have an object and you flow a fluid or a gas by it or move the object through the medium or both, how does the object resist or react or how does the fluid flow?
The applications for this type of science is widespread. They include ships, airplanes, trains, rockets, automobiles, fans, windmills and even ski racers. Ski racers? Yes, how they are shaped and how they position their body at a world class level determines, if they win or not. Not only that, but the shape and composition of the equipment that they wear is vital.
This week the Discovery Channel had a entire program on wind. In it they had a segment in which the Canadian Ski Team rented the GM Research and Development Centre's wind tunnel and with the help of GM engineers worked on the aerodynamics of the skiers and their equipment. GM has a world class facility that really helps save time and money.
GM's Massive Wind Tunnel
New cars are more and more being built to adhere to ideas that Bernoulli, Euler, Navier and Stokes discovered long ago.
Ford Fiesta at 65 mpg
How important is this technology to us? Well, Ford recently used a wind tunnel and some good research to produce and ordinary car that gets 65 miles per gallon, with no tricks other than what is known as aerodynamics.
Notice that they could eliminate the rear view mirrors and use back directed and mounted TV cameras to do more.
13/01/2009 04:19 PM
Laminar Flow vs. Turbulence
The Auto and Aerospace industry is in on this big time. The picture above shows what they want to do. If you think about the blue object as a ski jumper rather than the wing section of an airplane, then you will see that you want to get rid of that turbulence in order to soar higher and longer. This can be done in a wind tunnel.
Chevy Volt in a Wind Tunnel
The object of these studies is to see what kind of laminar flow the shape develops. The closer that the gas 'hugs' the surface of the object, the better efficiency that is developed and the better range they can achieve. Notice the turbulence off the rear deck.
For a closer look at how this all works, please click GM's giant wind tunnel in action
So, you say, we know most of this is being done all over the world. Why is it being brought up now by the Saugeen Times? The reason is that we are in danger of losing this technology in North America the same way we lost the furniture industry years ago in Bruce County and we lost rail travel. We just let it go bit by bit to other parts of the world. Now it is all gone except for artisan work that is helped by our own Southampton Market
Oh, and don't forget the basic research. The complicated equations that determine fluid flow depend upon a refinement of the work done by Bernoulli and Euler. They are called the Navier-Stokes equations. The final solution of them has not been achieved as of yet, but, if a person solves them, then they will be awarded a cash prize of $1,000,000. If this is done by others, it will revolutionize how things are designed.
Guess what? We got through all this without an equation.
If you are really interested in all this stuff, take a look at how fans are designed.
They are a fun company and very high tech.