Could making the surface of cars rough be a cheap and esay way to boost fuel efficiency, thereby saving oil and helping tackle climate change?
The idea comes from the dimples on golf-balls, which hold a thin layer of air to the ball, lessening turbulence and drag. And, amazingly, it appears to work:
[the full segment on the car is here but doesn’t embed]
Without any testing to find the perfect size of the dimples and using clay (clay!) the Mythbusters improved the car’s fuel efficiency by 10%. Incredible.
The idea isn’t actually new. America’s Cup Yachts and fighter planes use rough ‘sharkskin’ surfaces to similiarly reduce resistance, and textured paints are banned in Formula 1 for the advantage they give.
There’s got to be a way this could be used commercially. I’m not suggesting big dimples like on the Mythbusters episode. People probably think it looks ugly (I think it looks cool) and my guess would be that smaller texturing would work better anyway. But surely some kind of patterning on panels or textured paint could be used. A cheap way to get better fuel efficiency and cut greenhouse emissions. Hell, we could even have domestic industry in New Zealand retro-fitting vehicles. Probably not the way that Homer went about it, though: