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Superhydrophobic drag reduction in turbulent flows: a critical review

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Superhydrophobic (SHPo) surfaces have been investigated vigorously since around 2000 due in large part to their unique potential for hydrodynamic frictional drag reduction without any energy or material input. The mechanisms and key factors affecting SHPo drag reduction have become relatively well understood for laminar flows by around 2010, as has been reviewed before [Lee et al. Exp Fluids 57:176 (2016)], but the progress for turbulent flows has been rather tortuous. While improved flow tests made positive SHPo drag reduction in fully turbulent flows more regular since around 2010, such a success in a natural, open water environment was reported only in 2020 [Xu et al. Phys Rev Appl 13:034056 (2020b)]. In this article, we review studies from the literature about turbulent flows over SHPo surfaces, with a focus on experimental studies. We summarize the key knowledge obtained, including the drag-reduction mechanism in the turbulent regime, the effect of the surface roughness morphology, and the fate and role of the plastron. This review is aimed to help guide the design and application of SHPo surfaces for drag reduction in the large-scale turbulent flows of field conditions. Graphic abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

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