Sharkskin Suit

Kieran Lindsey

Kieran Lindsey | Jul 15, 2015

Imagine your vehicle sneakin’ ‘round corners like Mac the Knife, slicing through the wall of air that accumulates with acceleration as easily as the ocean’s most efficient predator glides through the briny depths.

The shark’s pearly-white grill is an attention-grabber, but speed is this assassin’s secret weapon—the ability to silently slip through salt water.

It looks easy.

It ain’t.

Want to be aerodynamic? Think skins not fins! (That Hartford Guy, Flickr)

Friction may not be the first concern that comes to mind when moving through air, or water, but it’s the reason car designers have moved away from the sharp lines and shark fins of the late 1950s, with it’s 30-cents-per-gallon gasoline, to the rounded exteriors of today. Channeling air so it flows around the car raises fuel efficiency.

Mother Nature was way out in front of Detroit in this race, with a lead of well over 400 million years. She equipped sharks with microscopic bumps on their skin that cause mini-vortices of water to congregate along their sides, reducing resistance.

Check out these dermal dentricles! (SA 3.0, Wikipedia)

Texas-based SkinzWraps has hitched a ride on this concept, using biomimcry to create FastSkinz Film. By wrapping the surface in tiny divots, similar to those on a golf ball, the film alters the distribution of air pressure surrounding the vehicle.

FastSkinz has become a big fish at Bonneville Salt Flats, contributing to eight new land speed records.

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