The History of Hydrodynamic Studies
This is the first in a three-part blog series that provides an introduction to hydrodynamic modeling, an overview of how models work, and, finally, an exploration of their many applications.
Let’s start with the history of hydrodynamic studies.
As you know, hydrodynamics studies the motion of fluids, particularly water. Hydrodynamic models are used to describe and visualize water flows in various circumstances. They are used by environmental agencies, governmental bodies, and private organizations to create simulations of water body motion across diverse geographies. Used extensively in the fields of coastal engineering and contaminated sediment analysis, these modeling tools were born from centuries of research in fluid dynamics and multiphysics mechanical law.
The Roots of Fluid Mechanics
Given that the majority of our world is composed of massive oceanic bodies, it’s no surprise that the study of fluid dynamics can be traced back to some of the earliest civilizations in recorded history.
From the principles uncovered by the ancient Greeks to theories contributed by scholars in the Medieval Middle East and philosophers in Renaissance-era Europe, our modern understanding of hydrodynamics is based on a long tradition of scientific exploration. Many respected scientific visionaries in the ancient world, including Archimedes, Da Vinci, Newton, and Bernoulli, have all made notable contributions to the study of mathematical fluid dynamics.
Modernizing Fluid Theory
As time went on and theoretical fluid models were refined through the collaborative efforts of scientists and engineers, researchers began to piece together a better understanding of the complex structures governing fluid motion.
In 1904, German engineer Ludwig Prandtl published the revolutionary paper Fluid Flow in Very Little Friction, explaining boundary-layer theory in modern fluid mechanics and adding groundbreaking insight into water flow analyses. These principles are applied today in our computational assessments of theoretical water flows.
With the advent of computational technology and software visualization tools, the study of hydrodynamics was transformed from a theory-based study of physics to a branch of applied science that could be drafted and viewed across different variables.
Most hydrodynamic models these days are computer-based models built on numerical algorithms. These hydrodynamic modeling tools take the basic fluid motion principles discovered hundreds of years ago and apply cutting-edge visualizations that give engineers a better understanding of all aspects of hydrodynamic study.
It’s this software that has brought applied hydrodynamic study to life, including the use of tools like the EFDC_Explorer (EE) Modeling System. This type of hydrodynamic modeling software uses 2D and 3D coordinate modeling to create equations of motion for fluid-structure visualizations. These EFDC models represent the pinnacle of modern hydrodynamic understanding, offering customizable equations for variables like salinity, temperature, density, and turbulent kinetic energy.
Moving forward, engineers can expect our increasingly advancing computing capabilities to further increase our hydrodynamic modeling options. Although the underlying philosophies set forth by Archimedes, Galileo, and their contemporaries aren’t likely to change, the exponential growth of technology is sure to provide a variety of new advancements in the expanding field of fluid motion analysis.
Stay tuned for our next blog in the series exploring how hydrodynamic models work. If you want to test the hydrodynamic modeling capabilities of the EFDC_Explorer Modeling System, click here to get your free 30-day trial.