Richard Smith's blog

Wind Energy: Back to the Future

Global warming concerns have launched a renewable electricity-generation boom with sleek wind-turbine farms on land and at sea playing a leading role. Yet capturing wind energy using windmills is an ancient science that pre-dates the use of electricity. The invention of the windmill is variously attributed to the Babylonians (circa 1700BC) and the Persians (circa 600-900AD); either way it is still an ancient machine.


Dutch Windmill in JapanDutch Windmill in JapanLicense: CC BY-SA 2.0, Hisakuni Fujimoto

Build It Yourself

The democratization of technology isn't just about making things for less, to line the already full pockets of CEOs. The ubiquity of technology also allows hobbyists and students to build more for less. Nowhere is this truer than for aerodynamic gadgets such as cars, planes and even wind turbines!

Why not try building a wind turbine? Short on ideas? Try a Google search for 'build your own wind turbine' and you'll be inundated with ideas and designs for wind turbines. Blades cut from plastic pipe and a repurposed generator from Ebay are enough to get you started on a horizontal axis wind turbine generating environmentally friendly energy with zero greenhouse gas emissions. If you're feeling a little adventurous and don't have much wind around, why not consider building a vertical axis wind turbine, maybe a Savonius or a Darrieus, which can exploit the merest whiff of a breeze. These are things your neighbor will have a hard time topping by shopping at Home Depot.

Solar Powered CarsSolar Powered CarsCompeting in the 2005 North American Solar Challenge

X-15 CFD Images on Postage Stamps

The United States Postal Service (USPS) on March 17, 2007 issued 2 stamps that feature Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) generated images of the North American X-15 rocket plane in flight.

NASA Langley Research Center performed the CFD calculations used to produce the images on the stamps. The aim of the CFD calculations, performed in the 1990s, was to demonstrate the ability to accurately capture geometry using laser digitizing technology for airflow simulation.

North American X-15North American X-15 In FlightImage courtesy of NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Photo Collection

Formula Hybrid

The inaugural Formula Hybrid International Competition was held May 1-3, 2007 at the New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon, NH, USA. College and university students from the US and Canada took up the challenge to construct and race gasoline-hybrid powered, open-wheel racecars.

2007 Formula Hybrid Teams2007 Formula Hybrid Teams and CarsImage courtesy of Doug Fraser, Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College

Secrets of Underbody Tunnels, Rear Diffusers and Venturis

Underbody tunnels, rear diffusers and venturis are common terms used to describe the contouring of a racing car's underbody. While largely hidden from view, these devices are the secret weapons in an arsenal of aerodynamic features for generating downforce on racing cars.

Racing-Car Rear DiffusersRacing-Car Rear DiffusersPressure coefficient contours, where red is high and blue is low

Automotive X Prize

The Automotive X Prize will award substantial cash prizes to the winning teams of a long-distance stage race. So is it replicating the World Rally Championship then? Not quite. The vehicles competing for the Automotive X Prize have to be environmentally friendly, production-capable and exceed 100mpg. I doubt any World Rally Cars will qualify!

Peugeot 206 WRCPeugeot 206 World Rally CarEven on two wheels it's still unlikely to qualify for the Automotive X Prixe
License: CC BY-SA 2.0, Christopher Batt

Introduction to Aerodynamics

Merriam-Webster's online dictionary definition for aerodynamics is "a branch of dynamics that deals with the motion of air and other gaseous fluids and with the forces acting on bodies in motion relative to such fluids." So what is aerodynamics again?

2001 BAR Honda Formula 1 Car2001 BAR Honda Formula 1 Car

April Fools - Fake Wired Cover

April 1st is April Fools' Day and so I thought it was an opportune moment to try my limited Gimp skills to fake a Wired cover. Maybe one day Caedium will be featured on the cover of Wired – I have a design ready!

Wired Cover Featuring CaediumFake Wired Special Edition Cover

Caedium on Cover of Wired Magazine

An image created by Caedium with our Professional add-on and rendered in POV-Ray will adorn the April 1st, 2007 special edition cover of Wired magazine. The magazine will also feature articles taken from our blog.

Wired Cover Featuring CaediumPreliminary Wired Special Edition Cover Proof

Why Use a Panel Method?

Panel methods can calculate the gas or liquid flow around complex 3D configurations, such as aircraft, with relative ease. However, that ease comes at a price: panel methods are incapable of modeling the viscous effects that are evident in all real-world flows. So why would an engineer use a panel method?

Panel Method Wing-Body CalculationPanel Method Wing-Body Calculation

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