A new study says that a new technology to keep turbulence down in pipes could actually keep arteries clear and save lives.
In an effort to help lower the cost of pumping fluids through pipelines, U.S. and German scientists discovered that by injecting puffs of water into a water pipe (or by adding more turbulence), it was possible to completely eliminate turbulence in the pipe.
The research could have huge implications in a wide variety of fields. The most immediate beneficiaries could be water utilities and oil companies, but aerospace and ship engineers could use the method to make vessels more fuel efficient.
Cardiologists could even tap the findings to keep arteries clear.
"There is a way to completely destroy turbulence for a minimal cost in energy. I hope it has implications in other fields where people want to reduce turbulence," Discovery News quoted Tobias Schneider, a scientist from Harvard University and co-author of a study, as saying.
To test the theory, the scientists pumped in a stream of water into a nearly 20-foot, clear plexiglass pipe.
As turbulence travelled down the pipe, it encountered another area of turbulence, provided by a jet of water piped in downstream.
The second area of turbulence acted like a wall.
When the original area of turbulence struck the second, the two cancelled each other out. Instead of a series of localized, chaotic currents, the water became smooth.
Smooth flow is beneficial because it requires less energy to pump than chaotic, turbulent water-a lot less energy.
And it was the first time, researchers showed a net savings in energy by cancelling turbulence. The energy savings were significant in even narrow pipes.
Water utilities could be the first beneficiary of the technology.
Eliminating turbulence in oil and liquefied natural gas will help these companies save money, which should lower the price of oil and gas for consumers.
Schneider said that the research would also interest cardiologists, as smoothing out the flow of blood around blocked arteries could reduce the number or severity of heart attacks.
The study has been published in the current issue of the journal Science.