Fluid Dynamics

Fluid Dynamics labFluid Dynamics is the study of how fluids (both liquids and gases) flow. Some of the obvious problems that involve fluid dynamics are the study of how air flows over the wings of airplanes causing them to fly, how strong a pump is required to push water through a system of pipes and how fast a boat will move through the water.

Fluid dynamics, however, is also involved in the study of problems in which the role of fluid flow is less obvious. The cooling of computer chips and car engines involves the flow of fluids which carry the heat away. Lubrication involves the presence of a thin liquid layers (a small amount of oil for instance) that greatly reduce friction and can eliminate squeaks in door hinges, make wheels turn more easily and prevent engine parts from rubbing each other into destruction.

The process of manufacturing things out of melted metal obviously involves the study of how liquid metals flow. Melted glasses and plastics are also examples of fluids whose flow often needs to be understood in order to design manufacturing processes.

Power generation almost always involves fluid flow. Steam is generated by nuclear reactors or coal burning boilers and forced through turbines (the opposite of fans - turbines produce electricity as they are pushed by moving fluid) to produce power, water flows through dams to produce hydro-electric power, wind power generators are obviously powered by the flow of wind though windmill type generators.

Many natural and biological systems involve interesting fluid flow problems. Plankton, nutrients and pollutants are carried through the ocean by ocean currents, blood flows and seeps through the body carrying oxygen and nutrients to the cells and carrying waste products away, the movement of glaciers on land and water is governed by fluid flow problems.

Fluid dynamics is one of the broadest and most difficult fields of study in all of science. The equations that fluid dynamicists study can only be solved exactly for some very simple problems. Yet by constantly improving approximations, careful experimentation and, more recently, the use of computer simulations, many flow problems are now well understood.

Faculty with expertise in Fluid Dynamics

Research projects in Fluid Dynamics at UMass Dartmouth

Course Offerings in Fluid Dynamics

  • Compressible Fluid Mechanics
  • Fluid Mechanics II
  • Aircraft and Propulsion Systems