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Sharkskin car covering

Increase fuel efficiency with rough bodywork
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OK, so I'll post this as a whole new idea. Sharkskin suits help swimmers (and sharks, I guess) go faster by reducing drag and turbulence. Do hydro- and aerodynamics overlap here? Would a sharkskin coating on a car reduce air resistance? If so, how about a total coating over the car's body, reducing drag and slashing fuel bills. Course, there'd be a hefty initial outlay to get the microscopic ridges on the car, but I reckon you'd recoup it after a few thousand miles. Hell, it might even make electric cars viable.
Nadir, May 16 2001

Where the real work's being done... http://www.mclaren-paragon.com/
...and no mention of sharks... [angel, May 16 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       The submarine and boat hull industries won't know what's hit them.
Nadir, May 16 2001

       Actually quiet a good idea except it would make it hard to keep your car clean and would make the surface of the car rough to the touch - like sand paper.   

       If you ignore those two downers then it's quite a good idea - would certainly be viable for Formula 1 cars etc.   

       I *Believe* then the "sharkskin" swinsuits work by making all the water flow over you STRAIGHT, eliminating inefficient turbulence. Thus it could work for cars too.
CasaLoco, May 16 2001

       Surely the hugely different viscosities of air and water would mean that the roughness of the coating on the car would have to be several orders of magnitude finer anyway - probably below the threshold at which a surface feels rough to the touch.   

       Also I doubt that surface drag is particularly significant in air, compared to the work required to push the air in front out of the way, which is determined by the shape of the car, not its texture.
gravelpit, May 16 2001

       I can't imagine this would improve fuel efficiency by any measurable amount, for the reason gravelpit states. You probably couldn't coat the windows anyway.   

       Some cheaper, more effective alternatives could be installing front spoilers (airdams), using flywheels, replacing those jutting side mirrors with rear-pointing video cameras, or just making sure tires are inflated to the proper pressure.
ejs, May 16 2001

       The notion is good...and I think we can take it one step further. The cooling system. If the exterior is covered with shark skin, the cooling system should be shark-derived also. I think I remember learning in high school biology that the shark cools itself by recirculating its urine. A bit messy perhaps in the event of a collision. But slick and cool.
grackle, May 16 2001

       Why sharkskin in particular? Are sharks in fact the fastest fish? How about a car coated in slime--well, the aerodynamic equivalent of slime--some sort of coating which coagulates the air in a microlayer at the surface of the car, promoting laminar instead of turbulent flow? (Don't mind me, I'm hallucinating again.)
Dog Ed, May 17 2001

       Some of you have missed the point of what the "Shark Skin" actually does - it make all the water flow straight over the surface, discouraging turbulance. This *should" even work in air. The whole car body is shaped to do this, but it not ideal for easethetic and safety reasons. (A perfectly shaped car would be ugly and in the evnt of hitting a pedestrian - it would slice him and dice him.)   

       [waugsqueke] - Yes your car would die and it would need to be moving along in order for the sharkskins gills to work.
CasaLoco, May 17 2001

       Swimmers most likely use it because it provides an improvement over bareskin, or synthetic fabrics. This does not entail that it should be particularly superb for hydro or aerodynamics. Just better than skin, and in a form that's easily made into clothing.
rapid transit, May 19 2003

       Just bolt a couple of surplus JATO units in the trunk and overpower the air with brute thrust. Try to avoid cliff faces.
whlanteigne, Nov 05 2004

       It's been done. Sort of. There is an application for marine use. It looks like a big sheet of plastic with a microscopic representation of shark's denticles. I believe the US navy is testing it. It may have more to do with fouling than outright speed.   

       See if you can acquire a few sheets and try it out. I doubt it would make any difference, given the difference in density between water and air. Testament to your good idea is that someone somewhere is already testing it, but not on cars
Mick Gyver, Sep 17 2007

       //the roughness of the coating on the car would have to be several orders of magnitude finer// Wouldn't it have to be coarser, not finer?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 17 2007

       Are sharks the fastest fish? There are lots of kinds of sharks, some of them are among the fastest.   

       The black marlin has been clocked at a bit over 60 mph, and the shortfin mako shark at slightly slower. Though, considering the shortfin mako *eats* black marlin, my guess is that they are at least approximately equivalent.   

       Shark's skin works to reduce drag by trapping vortices against the skin, I'm not sure a direct application to airflow would work.   

       However, I support the idea of being able to coat your car with sharkskin, just because it's cool.
partdavid, Sep 17 2007


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