Fluid

Cinzia Iacovelli | April 5, 2013

Have you ever noticed how water can flow through rocks and leave a trace of its passage by covering the surface with a patina, like white stripes? The whole process is quite complex but can roughly be explained by breaking it down into two coupled effects: gravity and chemical reactions. Gravity causes the water to infiltrate through discrete fractures (hard rocks) or pores (sedimentary rocks), until it charges the groundwater supply below to a point where excess water will surface […]

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Valerio Marra | March 13, 2013

I love trees and my favorite is definitely the ficus, all varieties included. A few weeks ago I had the chance to admire a stately ficus microcarpa (see figure below). What struck me above all were its aerial roots. Roots are designed to absorb water and nutrients, sustaining the tree and synthesizing substances responsible for its growth. A thought crossed my mind right away: the shape of those roots and the way they coalesce have surely been optimized by Mother […]

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Alexandra Foley | March 8, 2013

Water purification is the process by which chemicals, contaminants, and sediments are removed from dirty water to make it clean, and there are many processes through which this can be done. What you might not know, is that ozone molecules can be used as a means of disinfection in the purification process. “Ozonation” has been used to purify water, kill germs and bacteria in food, and even get rid of bad smells. Not only does ozonation provide clean water without […]

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Valerio Marra | January 22, 2013

One of my favorite sitcoms is “The Big Bang Theory”, thanks to its focus on physics. From time to time they run funny experiments that can be easily arranged at home, causing me to wonder if I know the physics that are at work. One of my favorite episodes is when they fill the cone of a speaker with a suspension of starch in water. Instead of spattering around, the suspension starts to dance because it behaves more like a […]

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Fanny Littmarck | January 7, 2013

If I asked you to envision a wind turbine, odds are you’d picture a wind farm in some remote location. With good reason; that’s commonly where they are found. If you’re a student or faculty of Case Western Reserve University, on the other hand, you might think of the wind turbine you have on campus. Does it make sense to set up wind turbines in urban settings? These two researchers suggest that it does.

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Valerio Marra | January 3, 2013

Nature is full of counter-intuitive phenomena; I’m fascinated by everyday examples like the one we talked about this summer, sinking bubbles in a pint of Guinness, but I have to say that engineering has its fair share of such examples too. The concept of heat exchange in coaxial pipes struck me as a student, as it showed me the relentless tinkering attitude typical of engineers wanting to optimize their design. In this kind of heat exchanger both streams, hot and […]

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Valerio Marra | December 21, 2012

The winter here in Boston has been very mild so far. A few days I would even have liked to have the air conditioning back on. I checked in with one my colleagues to check if he was having an equally hard time staying cool, and to my surprise, he was not. Why? He had constructed a make-shift air conditioner (A/C).

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Fanny Littmarck | November 12, 2012

December of 1903 marked the commencement of the Age of Powered Flight, and the Wright brothers went down in history. This was a time before personal computers and simulation software existed. Determining the optimal design of their airplane had to be done using physical prototypes and real-life experiments. What had the design looked like if the Wright brothers had been able to use computers and modeling software? Three researchers from Pennsylvania State University sought to find out how the design […]

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James Ransley | November 1, 2012

Since I joined COMSOL in 2010 I’ve presented about half a dozen webinars. Last week we held a webinar on Vacuum System Simulations and it was definitely the most fun webinar to-date. Historically, simulation has not been used extensively in the vacuum industry, so I was nervous that there wouldn’t be much interest in such a specialized topic.

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Fanny Littmarck | October 31, 2012

When you need to mix something at a very small scale you don’t reach for a teeny-tiny whisk. If you’re working with microscale biochemical applications you’d be more likely to rely on diffusion to mix fluids. With highly ordered laminar flow there is no turbulence involved, thus making diffusion a prime candidate for “getting the job done”. But what if you need to mix larger molecules? Larger molecules mean higher molecular weight, which in turn leads to very long equilibration […]

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Fanny Littmarck | October 24, 2012

It’s no secret that there’s a lot of guesswork involved in oil production. Oil companies make “Big Money” decisions based on estimates – estimates with huge margins of error. What’s more, there is an incredible amount of risk involved, but with the potential for a large pay-off if all goes according to plan. The plan is based on “best guesses” and less than perfect data. Still, there are many big players in the oil industry that are doing very well […]

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