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New Metamaterial To Trick Water

“A new metamaterial cloaking system can trick water into standing still as an object moves through it, by eliminating the shear force and reducing water displacement, Duke University researchers say. This in turn reduces the amount of energy required to move an object – say, a ship – through the water, theoretically saving fuel.

Yaroslav Urzhumov, assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke, envisions covering the hull of a ship with a three-dimensional lattice of porous metallic materials that would be embedded with tiny pumps. The pumps could force flowing water through at variable rates, Urzhumov says in a news release. “The goal is make it so the water passing through the porous material leaves the cloak at the same speed as the water surrounding by the vessel,” he says.

The water surrounding the hull would appear to be still, relative to the movement of the vessel, which would reduce the amount of energy the vessel needs to get through it. When moving through a fluid, a solid object displaces a greater volume of fluid than its own total volume – think of how much effort it requires to drag a thin fishing line through water. So if these shear forces could be eliminated or mitigated, a moving vessel would displace less fluid.”

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