Power in a reference system(aerodynamic drag)


In fluid dynamics, drag (sometimes called air resistance, a type of friction, or fluid resistance, another type of friction or fluid friction) is a force acting opposite to the relative motion of any object moving with respect to a surrounding fluid. This can exist between two fluid layers (or surfaces) or a fluid and a solid surface. Unlike other resistive forces, such as dry friction, which are nearly independent of velocity, drag forces depend on velocity. Drag force is proportional to the velocity for a laminar flow and the squared velocity for a turbulent flow. Even though the ultimate cause of a drag is viscous friction, the turbulent drag is independent of viscosity.

Drag forces always decrease fluid velocity relative to the solid object in the fluid’s path.

Under the assumption that the fluid is not moving relative to the currently used reference system, the power required to overcome the aerodynamic drag is given by this equation.

Note that the power needed to push an object through a fluid increases as the cube of the velocity. A car cruising on a highway at 50 mph (80 km/h) may require only 10 horsepower (7.5 kW) to overcome aerodynamic drag, but that same car at 100 mph (160 km/h) requires 80 hp (60 kW). With a doubling of speed the drag (force) quadruples per the formula. Exerting 4 times the force over a fixed distance produces 4 times as much work. At twice the speed the work (resulting in displacement over a fixed distance) is done twice as fast. Since power is the rate of doing work, 4 times the work done in half the time requires 8 times the power.

When the fluid is moving relative to the reference system (e.g. a car driving into headwind) the power required to overcome the aerodynamic drag is given by this equation.

Related formulas


Pdpower required to overcome the aerodynamic drag (W)
Cddrag coefficient (related to the object's geometry) (dimensionless)
Areference Area (m2)
ρmass density of the fluid (kg/m3)
uwwind speed (m/s)
u0object speed (m/s)