Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Self Forming Aerodynamic Aids

Might also help absorb low speed impacts
  [vote for,

Someone dented the side of my car the other day. It was in a car park and I was a little annoyed to say the least. I started wondering why the sides of cars aren't made of a soft impact absorbing material. The "Nerf car" and "Dent prevent" were duly found, but didn't quite fit the bill.

My take on this was that we need a layer of fairly viscous fluid trapped between the steel bodywork and an elastic outer layer. I then thought that if the car was moving the air flow might be enough to move the fluid around. If this fluid was channeled it would form a spoiler for the rear of the car. Some nice fins on the wings and door panels. Or even just a pretty pattern. Once the car stops the fluid would return to it's original position and do its job preventing idiots from denting my car.

In a higher speed impact perhaps the fluid could become less viscous and more solid it might help in channeling that impact to crumple zones and the like. Dare I say custard??? Or am I not allowed to think that way....

The down side - added weight of the fluid would negate any possible advantages gained in aerodynamic efficiency. The car might look like it was melting as the fluid drained out of the spoiler and fins. The possibility that some joker in the factory arranges things to spell out rude words on the side of your car that you have no way of knowing until people start laughing at you as you drive down the motorway.

Captain Pugwash, Jul 13 2011

Dent Prevent Dent_20Prevent
[Captain Pugwash, Jul 13 2011]

Nerf Car Nerf_20Car
[Captain Pugwash, Jul 13 2011]

Evolutionary_20Stre...ning_20Arrangements [spidermother, Jul 14 2011]


       Wow - two years, two ideas...   

       I quite like this. Does a fluid automatically form into the most aerodynamic profile? One of my brains says yes, because wherever the pressure is highest the fluid will be pushed away until the pressure is relieved, which should do it.   

       The other brain says that the sides of your car will just go flubbadubadubadubadub in a ripplish way as you drive along.   

       But what the heck. After two years, a bun already.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 13 2011

       //Does a fluid automatically form into the most aerodynamic profile?// No. An ideal aerofoil has a gradient of pressure over its surface. Fluid would tend to flow from high pressure to low pressure regions, creating a less aerodynamic shape.   

       That's not necessarily a killer for this idea; advanced sails, for instance, form good aerofoils, but their structure and tension etc. have to be carefully determined.
spidermother, Jul 14 2011

       Try looking at raindrops for self-forming aerodynamics--they don't make the pretty tear-drop shapes you see in pictures, they deform and blow apart.   

       You might get somewhere by pumping custard-like fluid into formed pockets, then keep hammering it to keep it firm while driving. (That sounds obscene, somehow.)
baconbrain, Jul 14 2011

       This has been discussed before (link).
spidermother, Jul 14 2011

       Not sure how well the fluid would work, but it got me to thinking about the way pinball machines work. I think it would be awesome to have panels all around the car that, at the first few nanoseconds of perceived impact, powerful hydraulics would immediately flick the offending automobile off your car like a booger off a finger.   

       Bun for the entertaining (yet deeply disturbed) thought, Cap'n [+].
Grogster, Jul 14 2011

       My Image for this was similar to those stress relief things that you punch and they squash down slowly. and take a while to reform into the original shape. The elastic cover on these are pretty tough and quite stiff. Hence the thought that they might hold a shape.   

       Perhaps the key to this actually working would be how elastic the outer material is, and how the fluid is actually channeled. I am now imagining a skeleton of rubber bones creating pockets of fluid. Some of which wouldn't move much, thus negating the "flubbadubadubadubadub" effect. (As an aside, could we tune this flubbadubba? It sounds quite like a rap song I heard the other day and I have a horrible feeling some people might like a car that goes flubbadubba according to how fast it is driven.) Whilst other pockets would be able to respond with a bit more freedom creating the desired shapes. Perhaps changing the elasticity of the cover over the panel might work as well. Less elastic where you don't need too much movement and want to hold a shape, more elastic where you want to allow for movement. But with all these ribs and different elasticities I have a horrible feeling that the fluid just wouldn't move under the pressure of the airflow around the car.   

       Gosh this science thing is harder than it looks!!   

       I'm quite please that I actually got a bun, I have been hanging around for a while but every time I think of an Idea I go looking and someone has posted something very similar already. No point in posting something that has already been done. Thank you for your kindness.
Captain Pugwash, Jul 15 2011

       I didn't read the idea, but I'm confident in saying that this new type of AIDS will destroy us all.
rcarty, Jul 15 2011


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