Paul Durbin awarded $1 million grant to study wall-bounded turbulence for U.S. Navy

Iowa State University aerospace engineering professor Paul Durbin will lead a $1,000,000 grant from the Department of Defense – U.S. Naval Research Laboratory to study wall-bounded turbulence. 

As Navy ships cruise through the water at 40 knots, even small objects along the hull such as barnacles, sand, and rivets can create turbulence that will affect the transport properties.

Paul Durbin, professor of aerospace engineering

Dr. Paul Durbin, professor of aerospace engineering at Iowa State University, received a $1 million grant from the Department of Defense – US Naval Research Laboratory to study wall-bounded turbulence by fundamental studies and data-driven modeling.

“The turbulent fluctuations are affecting the aerodynamic properties, or the drag, on the ship hull,” Durbin said. “The objective is to predict more complicated geometries than have wall-bounded turbulence to predict drag, lift, heat transfer, and lifetime erosion.”

Despite the massive size of a Navy ship, small objects can still cause problems. “Everything is bigger for the ship, so a barnacle is tiny comparatively,” Durbin said. “A barnacle for a ship might be more like dust. In aircraft engines, especially in the turbine, after the combustor you get carbon deposits that build up and that changes the heat transfer.”

Durbin, along with a researcher at the University of Michigan, will create simulations of wall-bounded turbulence that generate data. “We’re doing simulations and then we have different ways of modeling. We have two predictive strategies that we’re working on,” Durbin said.

With the first predictive strategy, Durbin will simulate the turbulence at much smaller resolutions so that it can become more practical. With the second, the researchers will develop predictive statistics through data driven modeling.