Volume 92, Issue 5

Friday, June 12, 1998

hakuna matata


Bubbly prof calming some rough waters

By Timothy Merrill
Gazette Staff

In a presentation Monday, Western engineering professor Raouf Baddour demonstrated how Western's rowing team can benefit from bubbles.

For over a year, Baddour has been researching the effects bubbles have on the ability to calm small bodies of water. During a demonstration at Western's Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Labratory, he illustrated how bubbles act to subdue and settle the waves when introduced into an unsettled pool of water.

"It's not the bubbles themselves that are calming the waves – it's the water current produced by the bubbles that does the job," he said.

Through his research with graduate student Rupp Carriveau and technical assistant Gerry Dafoe, Baddour has found the bubbles produce an opposing current which intersects the waves and causes them to break early.

"The bubbles rise with a vertical current and become part of a horizontal current. The horizontal current is what holds back the waves," Baddour explained.

The potential to settle small waves through this process has proven to be of great interest to the London rowing community. In fact, the visible results of the study proved to be much more successful than initially expected.

"We expected the results to be fairly conservative but it's turned out much better than we ever expected," Carriveau said.

Michael Murphy, an education professor at Western and president of the Rowing Canada Avrion, an organization working in conjunction with the Mustang rowing team, has worked with Baddour in attempting to settle the wave conditions at nearby Fanshawe Lake.

Last October, Murphy visited Fanshawe Lake with a group of international rowing officials and mentioned the idea of using bubble diffusion to settle the lake. In researching his proposed project for the lake, Murphy came across the environmental studies of Baddour.

"I wanted to see if any sedimentary studies had been done on the lake and found out that Ralph Baddour had done a study. I contacted him and asked him if he had any experience in working with bubble displacement. You could almost see the excitement in his email reply, as he had experience in working with bubble displacement."

Although the study has yet to be implemented in the lake, Murphy hopes future tests will prove to be beneficial for maintaining acceptable rowing conditions at the Fanshawe Conservation Area.

"The northwest wind usually causes waves in the middle of the lake but if we were to settle them, then we could make the conditions beneficial for the athletes," he said.

While Murphy believes the conditions at Fanshawe Lake are up to national standards, he said he hopes in the future the lake could be looked upon as a possible site to hold an international rowing regatta.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998