MIT Energy Initiative

Ultra-low-drag hydrodynamics

MIT research uncovers new process relating to the way drops of water spread after striking a surface

Adam Paxson, Kripa Varanasi, and Hyuk-Min KwonCredit: Justin Knight

In any real application, things are dynamic.

Kripa Varanasi, associate professor

As part of a study in hydrodynamics, MIT researchers are studying how to decrease drag by taming the forces at work when a water droplet strikes a surface. The phenomenon could help engineers design more durable condensing surfaces, which are used in desalination plants and steam-based power plants. The effect also explains why blades used in power-plant turbines tend to degrade so rapidly, and could lead to the design of more durable turbines. Improving turbine longevity and efficiency could reduce plant downtime and increase overall output, thus helping to curb global greenhouse gas emissions.

Research Team

Hyuk-Min Kwon Mechanical Engineering
Adam Paxson Mechanical Engineering
Neelesh Patankar Northwestern University

This research was supported in part by the MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund