Cod speed: how fish slime could fast track vehicles

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
12 October 2022, at 8:55am

Slime secreted by predator-avoiding fish could hold the key to making vehicles faster, more efficient and cheaper to run.

dead fish
Slime secreted by fish to help them make a quick get away from predators could help to speed up vehicles and reduce carbon emissions

Mathematicians at Aston University are developing computational modelling techniques to examine how nature tackles the resistance, or drag, experienced by a body while it is moving through air or water.

As part of this project the experts will establish new mathematical models of biological drag reduction techniques, such as those used by fish that secrete slime to make a quick get away from predators.

A major contributing factor to worldwide fuel consumption is skin-friction drag, which is drag caused by the friction of a fluid or gas against the surface of an object that is moving through it. As a result, this project has the potential to contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions created by vehicles including cars, ships and planes.

A reduction in drag could also increase the performance range of electric vehicles, making them more attractive to car buyers.

The project, Utilising a Naturally Occurring Drag Reduction Method, is led by Dr Paul Griffiths, senior lecturer in applied mathematics in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

As he explained in a press release: “At present, one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions stems directly from the burning of fossil fuels for transportation purposes. Maritime transport alone emits annually around 940 million tonnes of CO2.

“Turbulent flows play a significant role in reducing fuel efficiency and, in the case of fossil-fuel burning engines, have an associated impact in increasing harmful CO2 emissions.

“The goal of this project is to develop mathematical techniques that can be used to model the control of such flows with a specific focus on the ability to delay the onset of turbulent transition."

The project is funded by ESPRC and will last 24 months. Once the initial project is complete the team hopes to work with industry partners to put their theoretical findings into practice.