A touch of engineering ingenuity will be at work when cyclists at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games enter the heat of battle at the Anna Meares Velodrome.

Dr Peter Woodfield, a senior lecturer at the School of Engineering and Built Environment at Griffith University, has brought his expertise to bear on an airy issue after he was approached by Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC).

The problem to be solved surrounded air movement and how the best of both worlds would be struck for both elite athletes on the track and eager spectators in the stands.

“The thought was to install some fans inside the Velodrome and try and use those fans to make it comfortable for the spectators without interfering with the athletes on the track,” says Dr Woodfield, whose academic expertise straddles computational heat transfer, fluid dynamics and thermodynamics.

Complex geometry

“The challenging point for me was the complex geometry of the Velodrome,” he says.

“The cyclists like to have it warmer than the spectators because warmer means less drag, they can go faster. And it’s similar with humidity. If we have more humidity, that also lowers the density of the air and as a result there’s less drag.”

Such sticky conditions, however, would not be agreeable to supporters who have travelled from far and near to watch world class athletes in action. So, Dr Woodfield teamed up with Peter Viles, Mechanical Services Engineer at GOLDOC, using computational fluid dynamics software at Griffith University to develop modelling solutions.

They were supported by Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering students and GOLDOC interns, Sanjin Skavo and Dylan Fyffe, who helped with the calculations and modelling.

“I think it was a really good experience for them, a chance to apply some knowledge they learned to a real problem,” Dr Woodfield says. “When they’re watching the Games they can feel they made a little contribution to that.”