#282: Aeropimples

Golfballs travel further because they have a dimpled surface which creates turbulence in the air nearest the surface. This, in turn makes for a much narrower wake, a reduced pressure difference between front and back faces and thus a decrease in drag force.

All of this is good for golfers but it might actually be useful in other contexts. For a blunt shaped, slow moving vehicle, for example (say 10km per hour), it can be shown that the drag cofficient is halved by adding dimples to the surface.

Snack_Admiral_golfball676.jpg

This means that, for future versions of urban bubble cars and delivery vans, a big saving in fuel economy can be achieved just by a small change to the surface geometry. The dimples might actually work just as well by protruding outwards and would certainly be easier to manufacture by attaching small hemispheres to a bodyshell -aeropimples.

If anyone ever decides to return to the use of powered balloon flight for freight transport, this invention may become significant.

This doesn’t apply, of course, to high-speed, aerodynamic vehicles. The Spitfire was marginally slowed by the decision to use domehead rivets on certain of its surfaces.

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