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Golf-Ball Paint? New Car-Tech Improves Aerodynamic Efficiency

July 14, 2014

Scientists at MIT university have developed a new high-tech surface capable of morphing from smooth to dimpled – and this technology could have enormous applications for the automotive industry in the future.

 

The aerodynamic effects of a dimpled surface are nothing new, with the design being used on golf balls since the early 19th century! The dimpling seen on the surface of a golf ball allows it to travel further as they pass through the air. It works by creating small pockets of air around the ball, which disrupts the formation of turbulence and drag as it soars across the golf course.

 

So how can it be used on cars?

The reason cars don’t already feature a dimpled exterior is because the effect only works at certain speeds. When a car is travelling at a greater pace, a smoother surface is required in order to allow air to pass freely over its exterior. Therefore, the benefits of the dimpled surface would only be useful in reducing drag at low speeds (around 30 mph).

However, now that scientists have created a surface which can switch between the two at the touch of a button, the dimpled effect can be applied to cars for the first time. This has both manufacturers and drivers very excited, as this technology offers the opportunity to dramatically increase fuel efficiency. Cars with dimpled exteriors are able to slip through the air with minimal drag at low speeds, requiring less engine power (and fuel) to maintain velocity.

 

The technology has the potential to be fully automated and controlled by computers – optimising the car’s aerodynamic efficiency in real time, based on direction and speed. The system could theoretically control individual body panels on the car, constantly switching from smooth to dimpled.

 

Check out our article on the UK’s greenest cars. If this has inspired you to trade in your old petrol guzzler for a green-mobile, the Car Loan Warehouse can help. We’re experts in car financing and work with dealers and lenders to find the best car finance offer – regardless of your credit rating. Already got a set of green-wheels in mind? Try our quick and easy online car loan calculator for an instant quote.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.