Professor Tadd Truscott along with Masters Student Robert Klaus and undergraduate Taylor W. Killian investigate the impact dynamics of hollow elastic spheres partially filled with fluid in a research paper and podcast featured on Physics of Fluids. Unlike an empty sphere, the internal fluid mitigates some of the rebound through an impulse driven exchange of energy wherein the fluid forms a jet inside the sphere. Surprisingly, this occurs on the second rebound or when the free surface is initially perturbed. Images gathered through experimentation show that the fluid reacts more quickly to the impact than the sphere, which decouples the two masses (fluid and sphere), imparts energy to the fluid, and removes rebound energy from the sphere. The experimental results are analyzed in terms of acceleration, momentum and an energy method suggesting an optimal fill volume in the neighborhood of 30%. While the characteristics of the fluid (i.e., density, viscosity, etc.) affect the fluid motion (i.e., type and size of jet formation), the rebound characteristics remain similar for a given fluid volume independent of fluid type. Implications of this work are a potential use of similar passive damping systems in sports technology and marine engineering.
Read the complete research paper here.
Listen to the podcast here.