Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Fluid dynamics and aerodynamics

All aspects of fundamental fluid dynamics research applied to aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, turbulence and areas relevant to process engineering.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This area encompasses all aspects of fundamental fluid dynamics research applied to aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, turbulence and areas relevant to process engineering (for example, multiphase flows).

Research in fluid dynamics and aerodynamics underpins a number of areas (for example, 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, for example the Infrastructure and Urban Systems and Materials Engineering research areas, to accelerate translation of fundamental knowledge into solutions.

We will work with the community and with innovation partners to enhance focus on the major challenges for future developments.

Specifically, 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
  • strengthen the vital link between experimental and theoretical aspects of the field, particularly at the interface with applied mathematics, where enhanced collaboration with experimentalists is required
  • continue to work with innovation partners, such as the Aerospace Technology Institute, to maximise collaborations between fundamental researchers and industry
  • 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.

UK 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 National Wind Tunnel Facility.

There are a significant number of students trained through our three doctoral training routes, with four 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 cooperating fully in terms of tackling the larger fundamental problems of the area. There needs to be consideration of the wider research landscape, external to EPSRC.

Why we're doing it

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

The field has strong links to research areas related to applied mathematics, such as Continuum Mechanics, Non-Linear Systems 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.

UK research is strong

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 software packages, a recent example being openFOAM.

Several facilities are important to this area, such as the National Wind Tunnel Facility (25% open access). The research community uses HPC locally and uses ARCHER nationally, with access directly via EPSRC or through high-end computing consortia.

There are three consortia in this area:

There is significant industrial support in this research area, evidenced by public-private partnerships and direct industry funding in universities, Catapults, and the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and EU programmes.

The ATI, a £3.9 billion public-private investment which runs until 2026, was formed under the Aerospace Growth Partnership, which has aerodynamics as a core strategy.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Fluid Dynamics and Aerodynamics.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Last updated: 27 July 2023

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.