On the origin of the drag force on dimpled spheres

Nikolaos Beratlis, Elias Balaras, Kyle Squires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


It is well established that dimples accelerate the drag crisis on a sphere. The result of the early drag crisis is a reduction of the drag coefficient by more than a factor of two when compared to a smooth sphere at the same Reynolds number. However, when the drag coefficients for smooth and dimpled spheres in the post-critical regime are compared, the latter is higher by a factor of two to three. To understand the origin of this behaviour, we conducted direct numerical simulations of the flow around a dimpled sphere, which is similar to commercially available golf balls, in the post-critical regime. By comparing the results to those for a smooth sphere, it is found that dimples, although effective in accelerating the drag crisis, impose a local drag penalty, which contributes significantly to the overall drag force. This finding challenges the broadly accepted view that dimples only indirectly affect the drag force on a sphere by energizing the near-wall flow and delaying global separation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-167
Number of pages21
Journaljournal of fluid mechanics
StatePublished - Nov 25 2019


  • Boundary Layer Separation
  • Drag Reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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