Richard Smith's blog

The Complexity and Beauty of Fluid Dynamics

Do you ever take a moment to marvel at the inherent complexity and beauty of fluid flow? You don't have to go far, just look around. From the drip of a tap to the contrails left in the sky chasing a jetliner - it's easy to take for granted.

Water from a TapWater from a Tap

Lessons in Computational Fluid Dynamics

After a string of success stories (e.g., "Car Design and CFD"), Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) recently came in for some implied (if not direct) criticism in two widely reported articles. Peering behind the headlines reveals important lessons in benchmarking and the use of CFD.

Centreline Downwash Generating (CDG) WingCentreline Downwash Generating (CDG) Wing

Eco Racing

The idea of environmentally friendly motor racing at first glance seems like an oxymoron. Yet there are numerous examples of eco racing where speed isn't the only measure of success. And it's not just driving skills that are tested; most events require the manufacture of a vehicle - stretching engineering skills too.

Solar Powered Cars2005 American Solar Challenge Competitors

Wind Turbine Powered Tricycle

What do you get if you combine a wind turbine with a tricycle? The Ventomobile - a vehicle that can drive directly into the wind, but is also powered by the wind.

Whales Inspire New Turbine Blades

Turbine blades inspired by whales (that's the mammals and not a misspelling of the country Wales) show promise in delivering improved efficiency and operational range. This example of reverse engineering of a naturally evolved design (referred to as biomimicry) demonstrates that nature is still a rich resource of inspiration for traditional engineering disciplines.

Humpback WhaleHumpback Whale: Tubercle flipper in foregroundLicense: CC BY 3.0, Whit Welles

NASA is 50

It's fast approaching 50 years since US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the US Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA to its friends). October 1, 1958 marks the moment when the US started taking space seriously and the rest, as they say, is history - a glorious history.

Buzz Aldrin and Apollo 11 Lunar ModuleBuzz Aldrin and Apollo 11 Lunar Module: NASA's finest hourImage courtesy of NASA

Greenbird: World Land Yacht Speed Record Contender

Wind power, with its green credentials, is a primary force in our attempt to reduce our reliance on fossils fuels in order to reduce global warming. The majority of effort to exploit wind power is focused on converting its energy into electricity. However, if you are willing to live on the edge you'll find examples of wind energy used directly to power land-based vehicles, and very quickly in Greenbird's case - a world land yacht speed record contender.

GreenbirdGreenbirdImage courtesy of Greenbird

Green Power in the City

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a bold green-power vision for New York. As a first step his administration has issued a formal request for proposals to exploit natural energy sources (wind, solar and water) to power the city.

Giromill Vertical-Axis Wind TurbineGiromill (Eggbeater) Vertical-Axis Wind TurbineLicensed under the GNU Free Documentation License by Stahlkocher

General Aviation Technology Challenge

August is a busy month for competition fans, what with the Beijing Olympics just wrapping up, the US Open Tennis Championship about to start, numerous motor racing events, such as Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the 2008 General Aviation Technology (GAT) Challenge. OK, so maybe the GAT Challenge isn't quite in the same league as those other competitions, but with US$300,000 up for grabs, it's a serious competition intended to stimulate innovation in the personal air vehicle (PAV) arena.

2008 CAFE 400 Start Lineup2008 CAFE 400 Start LineupImage courtesy of Pipistrel

Beijing 2008 Olympics: Sports Engineering

It's not only the stadiums at the Beijing 2008 Olympics that have received the attention of engineers wielding the latest Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) analysis software - it's also the sports events themselves.

Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest)Beijing National Stadium (Bird's Nest)

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