We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Drag Coefficient?

By Karize Uy
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In the field of fluid and aerodynamics, drag coefficient refers to the numerical figure that represents an object’s resistance — or drag — when it is moving against a fluid medium, which is most usually water or air. It can also factor in the surface area on which an object is standing, such as cement, grass, or water. The term is most often applied when making machines such as cars, airplanes, and ships.

Aerodynamists use the following formula to compute for an object’s drag coefficient: 2Fdd/pv2A. In this formula, “Fd” refers to the object’s drag force, or the energy that moves opposite the object’s direction. The “p” is the mass density of the medium, while “v” refers to the velocity or speed of the object. “A,” on the other hand, pertains to the reference area of the object.

The basic principle behind the drag coefficient’s formula is that the density of the fluid medium is proportional to the force it is giving against the object and to the squared speed of the object in relation to the fluid. This principle can be more obvious when the formula is inverted: Fd = (pv2 cdA/2)A. This also means that the drag coefficient can vary largely on how fast the air of the water passes through the object. The speed, in turn, can change with the shape of the object.

The general rule of thumb is that the wider the area that the fluid medium has to go through, the higher the drag coefficient. With a square and a cone, the wide area of the square allows more air to push against it, as opposed to the cone, wherein the air can rush off more quickly away from its pointed shape. In this way, a square-shaped object experiences more drag and has a tendency to travel slower, compared to a cone-shaped object.

This principle is often used in the designing of automobiles, especially for sports cars that rely heavily on speed. One can observe that racecars are smaller and have a smooth, inclined front. This is to let the air pass easier through the car without any obstructions, thus producing a lower drag coefficient, more speed, and more efficient use of the fuel. Sports cars also have a tendency to sit lower on the ground compared to normal cars, so the air that comes between the tires and the ground is reduced. In this way, the car has a better grip of the ground and can ride faster.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.