CFD – Computational Fluid Dynamics
CFD stands for Computational Fluid Dynamics and is used to model what will happen when fluids or air flow over or around an object.
In certain sports and industries, such as Formula 1, fully understanding fluid and air behaviour is vital because it greatly influences the design of the car. The engineers want the car to be as ‘slippery’ as possible, meaning that it cuts through the air with the least resistance and drag – thus improving acceleration, top speeds and fuel economy.
CFD has started to creep into Formula 1 as a viable alternative to using a wind tunnel, which is important as wind tunnels are extremely expensive to build, maintain and operate – and as you may know, cost is a huge issue in Formula 1 at the moment.
As this technology develops further I’d expect it to be used more and more in other industries. For example, submarines need to be designed in such a way that they cut through the water without too much resistance. You can even test the difference yourself – next time you’re in the bath drag your hand through the water with a flat palm, then, do the same but with your hand sideways on. The side of your hand that has the least surface area hitting the water causes less drag and lets you move a lot more freely.
I’d like to see this technology completely replace wind tunnels as I feel in today’s world we just don’t need huge apparatus to tell us how air will impact a vehicle.
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