Nav: Home

Supercomputers use graphics processors to solve longstanding turbulence question

July 25, 2019

Advanced simulations have solved a problem in turbulent fluid flow that could lead to more efficient turbines and engines.

When a fluid, such as water or air, flows fast enough, it will experience turbulence - seemingly random changes in velocity and pressure within the fluid.

Turbulence is extremely difficult to study but is important for many fields of engineering, such as air flow past wind turbines or jet engines. Understanding turbulence better would allow engineers to design more efficient turbine blades, for example, or make more aerodynamic shapes for Formula 1 cars.

However, current engineering models of turbulence often rely upon 'empirical' relationships based on previous observations of turbulence to predict what will happen, rather than a full understanding of the underlying physics.

This is because the underlying physics is immensely complicated, leaving many questions that seem simple unsolved.

Now, researchers at Imperial College London have used supercomputers, running simulations on graphics processors originally developed for gaming, to solve a longstanding question in turbulence.

Their result, published today in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics, means empirical models can be tested and new models can be created, leading to more optimal designs in engineering.

Co-author Dr Peter Vincent, from the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial, said: "We now have a solution for an important fundamental flow problem. This means we can check empirical models of turbulence against the 'correct' answer, to see how well they are describing what actually happens, or if they need adjusting."

The question is quite simple: if a turbulent fluid is flowing in a channel and it is disturbed, how does that disturbance dissipate in the fluid? For example, if water was suddenly released from a dam into a river and then shut off, what affect would that pulse of dam water have on the flow of the river?

To determine the overall 'average' behaviour of the fluid response, the team needed to simulate the myriad smaller responses within the fluid. They used supercomputers to run thousands of turbulent flow simulations, each requiring billions of calculations to complete.

Using these simulations, they were able to determine the exact parameters that describe how the disturbance dissipates in the flow and determined various requirements that empirical turbulence models must satisfy.

Co-author Professor Sergei Chernyshenko, from the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial, said: "From my first days studying fluid mechanics I had some fundamental questions that I wanted to know the answers to. This was one of them, and now after 40 years I have the answer."
-end-


Imperial College London

Related Engineering Articles:

Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity
Next frontier in bacterial engineering
A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.
COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.
Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.
Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.
New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.
Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.
Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.
Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.
More Engineering News and Engineering Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.