Open Access

Investigation of Drag Reduction Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles Using Surface, Wake and Underbody Pressure Measurements to Complement Aerodynamic Drag Measurements

Published April 2, 2019 by SAE International in United States
Investigation of Drag Reduction Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles Using Surface, Wake and Underbody Pressure Measurements to Complement Aerodynamic Drag Measurements
Citation: de Souza, F., Raeesi, A., Belzile, M., Caffrey, C. et al., "Investigation of Drag Reduction Technologies for Light-Duty Vehicles Using Surface, Wake and Underbody Pressure Measurements to Complement Aerodynamic Drag Measurements," SAE Int. J. Adv. & Curr. Prac. in Mobility 1(3):1233-1250, 2019, https://doi.org/10.4271/2019-01-0644.
Language: English

Abstract:

A multi-year, multi-vehicle study was conducted to quantify the aerodynamic drag changes associated with drag reduction technologies for light-duty vehicles. Various technologies were evaluated through full-scale testing in a large low-blockage closed-circuit wind tunnel equipped with a rolling road, wheel rollers, boundary-layer suction and a system to generate road-representative turbulent winds. The technologies investigated include active grille shutters, production and custom underbody treatments, air dams, wheel curtains, ride height control, side mirror removal and combinations of these.
This paper focuses on mean surface-, wake-, and underbody-pressure measurements and their relation to aerodynamic drag. Surface pressures were measured at strategic locations on four sedans and two crossover SUVs. Wake total pressures were mapped using a rake of Pitot probes in two cross-flow planes at up to 0.4 vehicle lengths downstream of the same six vehicles in addition to a minivan and a pick-up truck. A smaller rake was used to map underbody total pressures in one cross-flow plane downstream of the rear axle for three of these vehicles.
The results link drag reduction due to various technologies with specific changes in vehicle surface, rear underbody and wake pressures, and provide a database for numerical studies. In particular, the results suggest that existing or idealized prototype technologies such as active grille shutters, sealing the external grille and ride height control reduce drag by redirecting incoming flow from the engine bay or underbody region to smoother surfaces above and around the vehicle. This mechanism can enhance the reduction in wheel drag due to reduced wheel exposure at lowered ride height. Sealing the external grille was found to redirect the flow more efficiently than closing the grille shutters, and resulted in greater drag reduction. Underbody treatments were also found in some cases to redistribute the flow around the vehicle to reduce pressure drag in addition to underbody friction drag. The magnitude and spatial extent of the measured pressure changes due to the various technologies were often consistent with the amount of drag reduction.