May 2011

Fluid motion is classified as either laminar or turbulent. Flows that are smooth and ordered (laminar) may become complex and disordered (turbulent) as the flow speed increases, a process called transition to turbulence. Turbulent flow around cars, airplanes, and ships increases drag, which, in turn, forces vehicles to use more fuel and reduces the efficiency of wind-turbine blades. Assistant Professor Mihailo Jovanovic (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and his research group are developing theories and techniques for sensor-less flow control to prevent the transition to turbulence. An article about this work appears in the Spring 2011 MSI Research Bulletin. The image above shows how laminar flow around an aircraft wing or wind-turbine blade becomes complex and disordered as it moves away from the leading edge (e-fluids photo at bottom left by Miguel Visbal).