Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Hirotaka Sakaue
Development of a Drag Reduction Technique Using a Microfiber Coating Inspired by Hair-follicles on the Seal
Transportation systems including cars, trains, and aircraft consume extra fossil fuel due to aerodynamic drag. Technologies that reduce drag are useful in improving fuel efficiency, which in turn benefits both the environment and the economy. Coatings are a key technology because of their broad applications, including their use in modifying existing technologies. One such coating is a novel bio-inspired hairy surface designed to reduce drag. It is known that many aquatic mammals, such as seals have a thin coating of hair. In addition to providing insulation and protection to aquatic mammals, it is theorized that this hair allows them to smoothly move through water. With this in mind, I sought to develop a coating to mimic the hair follicles on seals in order to reduce drag. The project has been sponsored by The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Tanaka-Ai for the development of drag reduction techniques using surface and coatings. I have developed different coatings of various thicknesses with imitation hair follicles using nylon fibers. I have been conducting wind tunnel campaigns using different hair coatings on both a cylinder and airfoil test model. The information gained through performing these tests will be used for the demonstration, characterization and theoretical foundation of drag reduction using a hairy surface.