The skin of fast-swimming sharks exhibits riblet structures aligned in the direction of flow that are known to reduce skin friction drag in the turbulent-flow regime. Structures have been fabricated for study and application that replicate and improve upon the natural shape of the shark-skin riblets, providing a maximum drag reduction of nearly 10 per cent. Mechanisms of fluid drag in turbulent flow and riblet-drag reduction theories from experiment and simulation are discussed. A review of riblet-performance studies is given, and optimal riblet geometries are defined. A survey of studies experimenting with riblet-topped shark-scale replicas is also given. A method for selecting optimal riblet dimensions based on fluid-flow characteristics is detailed, and current manufacturing techniques are outlined. Due to the presence of small amounts of mucus on the skin of a shark, it is expected that the localized application of hydrophobic materials will alter the flow field around the riblets in some way beneficial to the goals of increased drag reduction.
One contribution of 11 to a Theme Issue ‘Green tribology’.
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