[ASC-media] Octopus jets the key to greener flights: Synthetic jets improve aerodynamics of aircraft

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Thu Nov 19 03:11:16 CET 2009

Dear ASCers, 

One of the final Fresh Science stories of 2009.

Kind regards,


Octopus jets the key to greener flights

Synthetic jets improve aerodynamics of aircraft

Thursday 19 November 2009

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have improved the
aerodynamics of aircraft by putting rows of tiny synthetic jets along
the wings of aeroplanes -much like the suck and blow jets octopuses use
to move through the water.

The models tested demonstrated smoothing of the air flow over the wing
section. This would infer a faster and smoother ride on aeroplanes. 

If adapted to aircraft this would potentially mean less fuel and
ultimately less cost.

"When an aeroplane moves through air, there is a very thin layer of air
close to the aeroplane that generates friction slowing it down. This is
called the boundary layer," says Nicholas Findanis, a PhD student under
the supervision of Associate Professor N A Ahmed at the University of
New South Wales.

"What develops is a large pressure which opposes the forward motion of
the aeroplane," says Nick. 

"The air separates from the wing like little whirlpools of air- and it
is this turbulence that reduces the aerodynamic efficiency of the

"We wanted to stop this large pressure building up."

Knowing how marine creatures such as octopus, squid and jellyfish propel
themselves through water, Nick and his colleagues put rows of tiny jets
along the top of the wing of the aeroplane.

The jets suck air in and push it out again disturbing the air around the
wing and, paradoxically, improving the flow of air over it.

"We hope synthetic jets will enable us to improve the aerodynamic
performance of all types of aircraft," says Nick. 

"Many other key areas in the transportation and industry sectors could
also benefit."

The researchers' findings also have significance for various fluid
mechanical devices of practical significance such as turbomachines and
rotors where control of three-dimensional flow separation is required.

Now the team is looking for funding to take the concept from model
aircraft to the real thing. 

Nicholas Findanis is one of 15 early-career scientists presenting their
research to the public for the first time thanks to Fresh Science, a
national program sponsored by the Australian Government. 

*         For interviews, please contact Nick on 0406 786 053 or 07 3365

*         For Fresh Science contact: Sarah Brooker on 0413 332 489 and
Niall Byrne on 0417 131 977 or niall at freshscience.org
<mailto:niall at freshscience.org> . 

*         Further details and photos at www.freshscience.org.au



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