Fluid dynamics and aerodynamics

Encompasses all aspects of fundamental fluid dynamics research applied to aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, turbulence and areas relevant to process engineering (e.g. multiphase flows). Research in fluid dynamics and aerodynamics underpins a number of areas (e.g. microfluidics, complex fluids) and is of significant importance to aerospace, process industries and emerging technologies such as wind power.

Fluid Dynamics and Aerodynamics continues to be an important research area in delivering sustainable aviation and transport. It also has potential to enable wider impact by working across disciplines (e.g. the research areas Infrastructure and Urban Systems and Materials Engineering), to accelerate translation of fundamental knowledge into solutions. Given the breadth of fundamental and applied research, we will maintain this area as a proportion of EPSRC's portfolio. We will work with the community and with innovation partners to enhance focus on the major challenges for future developments.

Specifically, in the current Delivery Plan, we will:

  • Work with the community to enable greater collaboration and to maximise impact arising from both applied and fundamental areas of research
  • Deliver a portfolio that integrates with mathematical sciences to maximise the short and long-term challenges that underpin delivery against EPSRC's priority Ambitions. The link between experimental and theoretical aspects of the field is vital, particularly at the interface with applied mathematics, where enhanced collaboration with experimentalists is required
  • Continue to work with innovation partners, such as the Aerospace Technologies Institute (ATI), to maximise collaborations between fundamental researchers and industry, and to signpost key academic challenges in this area
  • Work with the community to understand specific needs and requirements with respect to research infrastructure (specifically facilities)

Work with the community to optimise access to existing facilities, such as the National Wind Tunnel Facility (NWTF). 

Highlights:

Research in this area is world-leading and the EPSRC portfolio is characterised by a number of large investments, such as programme grants and the NWTF. There are a significant number of students trained through our three doctoral training routes, with three Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) directly aligned to the area and a large number of Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) students. Training remains strong and is aligned with both academic and industrial needs.

The current Fluid Dynamics and Aerodynamics portfolio is characterised by multiple smaller groups conducting research that may not be co-operating fully in terms of tackling the larger fundamental problems of the area. There needs to be consideration of the wider research landscape, externally to EPSRC, in the next Delivery Plan.

Research that falls under this area is of significant national importance, with government reconfirming its support for aerospace through the ATI (Evidence source 1).

The field has strong links to research areas related to applied mathematics, such as Continuum Mechanics, Non-linear Dynamics and Numerical Analysis. It also has significant links with Complex Fluids and Rheology as well as Combustion Engineering. This breadth of overlap is reflected by the diversity of the research interests within the community, which includes academics from engineering, mathematics, computer science, physics and chemistry. Flows within urban environments are also important, so this research area also links through to the Infrastructure and Urban Systems area.

This research area is one of considerable strength for the UK, particularly in theory and numerical modelling. This is evidenced by the UK’s strong track record of High Performance Computing (HPC) and developing Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software packages, a recent example being openFOAM.

Several facilities are important to this area, such as the NWTF (25% open access). The research community uses HPC locally and, nationally, uses ARCHER (running until 2018, when new provision will become necessary), with access directly via EPSRC or through High End Computing (HEC) consortia. There are three HEC consortia in this area: UK Turbulent Flows (UKTF), the UK Turbulent Reacting Flows Consortium (UKCTRF) and the UK Consortium on Mesoscale Engineering Sciences (UKCOMES).

There is significant industrial support in this research area, evidenced by public-private partnerships and direct industry funding in universities, Catapults etc., as well as the ATIand European Union programmes. The ATI, a £3.9 billion public-private investment which runs until 2026, was formed under the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP), which has aerodynamics as a core strategy (Evidence source 1,2,3).

Will contribute to the Productive and Resilient Nation Outcomes, and specifically the following Ambitions:

P1: Introduce the next generation of innovative and disruptive technologies

Cutting across fundamental and applied research, this research area has the potential to lead to the development of disruptive technologies that have significant impact. For example, understanding novel ways to modulate flow as a way to reduce aerodynamic drag will be critical to achieving environmental pollution targets.

R4: Manage resources efficiently and sustainably

Fundamental Fluid Dynamics and Aerodynamics research has the capacity to change the way we use resources in processes, so could have major implications for chemical and transport-based sectors (e.g. in mixing-based manufacturing or improving fuel efficiency by reducing drag of transport vehicles). 

  1. ATI, Strategy Documents, (2015)
  2. Clean Sky, Greener Aviation, (2016)
  3. Clean Sky, Report to the European Parliament on the Socio-economic Impact of Clean Sky (PDF), (2016)

Other sources:

Research area connections

This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.

Maintain

We aim to maintain this area as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio.

Visualising our Portfolio (VoP)
Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

EPSRC support by research area in Fluid dynamics and aerodynamics (GoW)
Search EPSRC's research and training grants.

Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: Judith McCann
Job title: Portfolio Manager
Department: Engineering
Organisation: EPSRC
Telephone: 01793 444468