Engineering an accurate, affordable model for turbulence in air and space travel

The future of space travel could hinge on the management of tiny swirls of air turbulence. But first, engineers have to figure out just how far they can push the envelope. George Ilhwan Park, an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics Department in Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, focuses on understanding and modeling those turbulent eddies, which happen when the flow of air over a wing is disrupted by even a small amount, producing a complex tangle of currents.
Armed with a grant from NASA and an astonishing amount of supercomputing time, he’s on the forefront of developing models that are affordable but also highly accurate in their predictions. Better models could improve the efficiency of aerial or waterborne vehicles and could also help build wind turbines and wind farms that are more stable and energy-efficient.

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