Jack Gorman

Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Hirotaka Sakaue

Application of Microfiber Coatings to Aerodynamic Surfaces

Many applications in the transportation industry aim to move goods with maximum energy efficiency. Large trucks with their rectangular frames are not the most aerodynamics and thus, generate high amounts of drag, increasing their energy consumption. This drag can be reduced using microfiber coatings applied to the surface of the trailer. Microfiber coatings are created using fibers 0.5 mm to 1 m in length and can be applied to nearly any surface. The primary objective of this project explores the drag reduction and noise reduction capabilities of these microfiber coatings in an aerodynamic scope in order to reduce energy consumption. Manufacturing methods to alter the density and angle of the fibers is integral to optimizing energy consumption through drag reduction. Overall, turbulence reduction is the underlying goal of microfiber applications. Turbulence leads to increases in both drag and noise generation and these, in turn, lead to energy inefficiencies. As well as studying processes to produce microfibers and their potential uses on trailers, this project focuses on their application to drones. Drones offer a method of parcel delivery that is far more energy efficient than conventional ground shipment. Reducing noise generation is vital to paving the way for drones to become a mainstream method of delivery and eliminate emissions from ground delivery vehicles. Moreover, these drones lose much energy through their propellers which generate drag as a result of turbulent flow. Microfibers along the propellers as well as the frame would allow drones to be even more energy efficient than traditional methods in place today. These are just two applications of microfiber coatings that could revolutionize the transportation industry. In the future, additional applications will be explored in an attempt to reduce energy consumption in other industries altogether.