Jun 052011
 
Diagram showing a droplet of water on a hotpla...

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New research into drag reduction has the potential to help industries such shipping to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.

Professor Derek Chan from the University of Melbourne’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics said the research demonstrates a new way to minimise drag of fast moving projectiles in water.

A collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the King Abdulla University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, the research was based on the 255 year-old Leidenfrost effect.

The Leidenfrost effect describes the phenomenon where a liquid produces an insulating vapour layer when it comes in contact with a solid surface that is hotter than its boiling point.

The new research used high-speed video footage to assess the drag produced from polished balls dropped into liquid. The results found that the drag on the ball is reduced to almost the minimum possible through the creating of an insulating vapour as it falls through the liquid.

Professor Chan said that the new drag reduction method has the potential to reduce energy costs for a broad range of applications, such as ocean transport and high-pressure pumping of liquid through pipelines.

“An obvious area of application is shipping,” he said.

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