1978 …2022

Research activity per year

Personal profile


The air dynamic

Through the study of fluid mechanics, Professor John Sheridan and colleagues are helping reduce the use of fossil fuels, increase the power of wind farms, improve rail safety and boost Australia's Olympic gold medal chances.

John has been active in the field of energy research and fluid mechanics for more than 30 years, having spent a decade working on solar technology with the CSIRO before joining Monash in the early 1990s.

Put simply, fluid mechanics is the study of how fluids move and the forces they can impart. John's particular expertise lies in investigating and manipulating the influence of air and water.

Many of his current research activities relate to reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions, including an ongoing ARC Linkage grant project with Linfox and Kenworth to reduce the drag on large transport vehicles.

"Given the amount of heavy transport that's done in Australia by trucks there's tremendous opportunity to make significant fuel savings and reduce carbon emissions considerably by reducing the drag on vehicles," John says.

"In fact, our studies have shown the savings would have a noticeable effect on the overall reduction of emissions in Australia."

John and his team are exploring "active control" methods of streamlining the trailers of large trucks. Such devices, including a series of oscillating flaps similar to those used on the wings of modern aircraft, or a system of small air-producing jets positioned along the trailer body, would allow greater aerodynamic gains in volatile, real-world conditions than the static add-ons that have been previously explored.

Such aerodynamic considerations are also at the heart of John's collaboration with researchers at Central South University in China, who are evaluating the impact of wild desert winds on the country's high-speed train network. The group have used the Monash wind tunnel to estimate the chances of strong crosswinds causing instability on new services into the north-west of the country. That collaboration prompted another project with researchers from Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier. Again working with high-speed trains, John and PhD students under his supervision are helping limit the dangerous pressure waves that can affect waiting passengers as the locomotives pass through rail stations.

The Monash wind tunnel, the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, is central to these investigations, which is also helping Australia's Olympic cycling team prepare for the London games in 2012. John and his team have developed a close partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport over recent years, and are currently collaborating on an ARC Linkage project to improve our cyclists' performance through studying rider positions on the bike and the configuration of cycling teams.

Away from the arena of transport aerodynamics, John is heavily involved in improving the performance of Australian wind farms. Along with Professor Hugh Blackburn and two PhD candidates, he is working on an ARC Discovery Grant investigating how the wake from one wind turbine affects the output of others positioned down stream in a clustered wind farm. He is also involved in an ARC Linkage research effort evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of placing wind turbines near cliffs and escarpments.

In addition to his research activities, John is a Professor within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He is also the President of the Academic Board, the prime academic committee at Monash University.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Research area keywords

  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Vortex Interaction
  • Wakes
  • Wind Energy

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or