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Mechanical Engineering

National Science Foundation Grant

Movement of Planing Surfaces on Highly Compressible Soft Porous Media; with Application to a Novel Train Track


Principal Investigators:
Sheldon Weinbaum and Yiannis Andreopoulos

Project Participants:
In addition to the Principal Investigators the following students have been working in this research project:

Ms. Parisa Mirbod, PhD student
Mr. Dogus Akayedin, PhD student
Mr. Michel Al Achidiac, Master’s student
Mr. Cidi Ndao, Master’s student
Mr. Magnus Hedlung, undergraduate student

Internal collaboration:
Prof. Latif Jiji

External collaborator:
Dr. Mary Albert of the US Army Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, NH.

Contributions:
We have demonstrated theoretically and experimentally the possibility of generating lift forces on soft porous media which vastly exceed those currently available in traditional lubricating films and also dramatically reducing the drag due to sliding friction. It has been shown that there is a remarkable dynamic similarity between the motion of red cells gliding on the endothelial glycocalyx and a human snow boarding on fresh powder although they differ in mass by 10^15. These concepts are applied in this work to design and fabricate laboratory models to explore the feasibility and performance of a new concept for a future generation high speed train-track which can support gliding vehicles weighing 50 or more metric tons with extremely low sliding friction gliding on a porous media with mechanical properties akin to goose down.
This work is notable because it has the potential to substantially improve our understanding of the behavior of compressible porous media as a lubricating layer with extraordinary potential for vastly increasing lift and reducing drag which can result in substantial savings in energy consumption. read more>>