Tag Archives: wind

Making jet engines (and power generation) more efficient

It’s very hard to set up a jet engine in a wind tunnel and get accurate measurements inside it while it’s rotating 7,000 times a minute.

As air passes over these turbine blades (flowing from right to left) a wake is created which interacts with the next (lower) blade. Credit: Richard Sandberg and Richard Pichler
As air passes over these turbine blades (flowing from right to left) a wake is created which interacts with the next (lower) blade.
Credit: Richard Sandberg and Richard Pichler

So while other members of the University of Melbourne’s mechanical engineering department use wind tunnels to measure turbulence on the surface of airplanes, Professor Richard Sandberg has developed a computer program to make the same measurements inside an engine.

His work also applies to the turbines used to generate power from gas, wind and wave.

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Making waves in a wind tunnel

We know the Southern Ocean plays a big role in our climate, but there’s much to learn about how and where clouds form over the sea, how they influence global temperatures, and how the wind affects cloud formation and how much carbon dioxide our oceans can absorb.

A wave pool in a wind tunnel: Professor Jason Monty’s work on air-sea interaction will inform climate models and more. Credit: Joe Vittorio
A wave pool in a wind tunnel: Professor Jason Monty’s work on air-sea interaction will inform climate models and more.
Credit: Joe Vittorio

Now a 60m ‘wave pool in a wind tunnel’ built by Associate Professor Jason Monty is allowing researchers from The University of Melbourne, Swinburne, and Monash University to find out.

“We know that small eddies at the surface of the ocean affect how evaporation occurs and gasses are exchanged, but this turbulence is not included in climate models, as no one has been able to measure it,” Jason says.

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When earth, wind, and sea meet

Cracking the mysteries of boundary layers

Airplane fuel consumption, shipping costs, climate change, engine noise, blue green algae spread, windfarm efficiency, and the speed of Olympic rowing boats could all change dramatically if scientists can crack the 150-year-old mystery of boundary layer turbulence.

And that’s what University of Melbourne engineers are hoping to achieve with a supercomputer model that can do 3,000 years’ research in one year, a purpose built wind tunnel, and a new air-sea interaction facility.

Read more at:

Banner image: What happens when earth, wind, and sea meet? Inside the University of Melbourne’s new wind tunnel
Credit: Joe Vittorio

Fresh Science 2010

Each year we identify early-career scientists with a discovery and bring them to Melbourne for a communication boot camp. Here are some of their stories.

More at www.freshscience.org.au

Print your own lasers, lights and TV screens

Print your own lasers, lights and TV screens
Jacek Jasieniak sprinkling quantum dots. Credit: Jacek Jasieniak

Imagine printing your own room lighting, lasers, or solar cells from inks you buy at the local newsagent. Jacek Jasieniak and colleagues at CSIRO, the University of Melbourne and the University of Padua in Italy, have developed liquid inks based on quantum dots that can be used to print such devices and in the first demonstration of their technology have produced tiny lasers. Quantum dots are made of semiconductor material grown as nanometre-sized crystals, around a millionth of a millimetre in diameter. The laser colour they produce can be selectively tuned by varying their size.

Cling wrap captures CO2
Colin Scholes operates a test rig for his carbon capture membrane. Credit: CO2 CRC

Cling wrap captures CO2

High tech cling wraps that ‘sieve out’ carbon dioxide from waste gases can help save the world, says Melbourne University chemical engineer, Colin Scholes who developed the technology. The membranes can be fitted to existing chimneys where they capture CO2 for removal and storage. Not only are the new membranes efficient, they are also relatively cheap to produce. They are already being tested on brown coal power stations in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, Colin says. “We are hoping these membranes will cut emissions from power stations by up to 90 per cent.”

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