On Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 3:00 EDT NASA engineers are holding an online chat about a current project to achieve laminar flow control on business jet-class airplanes. Keeping flow over an airplane’s wings laminar could decrease the total drag on an airplane by as much as 15%. In particular, this project involves placing tiny hockey-puck-shaped discrete roughness elements (DREs) along the front of the wing. These DREs are positioned such that they perturb the mean-flow over the wing at a higher frequency than the naturally most unstable frequency; as a result, flow actually remains laminar over a greater extent of the wing than would normally be the case. For more on the technical ideas, see this NASA blog post or feel free to ask questions in the comments. #
Full disclosure: This project is being conducted in joint with professors with whom I work, and the subject matter is related to my own research.