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Road Loads

Aerodynamics (Mechanics of air flow around a vehicle,

Pressure distribution on a Vehicle, Aerodynamic Forces, Drag Components, Aerodynamics Aids, Drag, Side Force, Lift Force, Pitch Moment, Yawing moment, Rolling Moment, Crosswind Sensitivity) Rolling Resistance(Factors affecting rolling resistance, Typical coefficient) Total road Loads and effect of Road loads on Fuel economy.

Aerodynamics makes its major impact on modern cars and

trucks through its contribution to "road load." Aerodynamic forces interact with the vehicle causing drag, lift (or down load), lateral forces, moments in roll, pitch and yaw, and noise. These impact fuel economy and handling . The aerodynamic forces produced on a vehicle arise from two sources form (or pressure) drag and viscous friction. First, the mechanics of air flow will be examined to explain the nature of the flow around the body of the vehicle. Then, vehicle design features will be examined to show the qualitative influence on aerodynamic performance.

Mechanics of Air Flow Around a Vehicle

The gross flow over the body of a car is governed by the

relationship between velocity and pressure expressed in Bernoulli's Equation (Bernoulli's Equation assumes incompressible flow, which is reasonable for automotive aerodynamics, whereas the equivalent relationship for compressible flow is the Euler Equation.) The equation is:
Pstatic + Pdynamic = Ptotal 1 P s+ 1/2 V2 = Pt where: = Density of air V = Velocity of air (relative to the car)

Bernoulli's equation states that the static plus the dynamic pressure of the air will be constant (Pt) as it approaches the vehicle. Visualizing the vehicle as stationary and the air moving (as in a wind tunnel), the air streams along lines, appropriately called "streamlines." A bundle of streamlines forms a stream tube. The smoke streams used in a wind tunnel allow stream tubes to be visualized as illustrated in Figure

At a distance from the vehicle the static pressure is simply the ambient, or

barometric, pressure (Patm) The dynamic pressure is produced by the relative velocity, which is constant for all streamlines approaching the vehicle. Thus the total pressure, Pt, is the same for all streamlines and is equal to Ps + V2. As the flow approaches the vehicle, the stream tubes split, some going above the vehicle, and others below. By inference, one streamline must go straight to the body and stagnate (the one shown impinging on the bumper of the car). At that point the relative velocity has gone to zero. With the velocity term zero, the static pressure observed at that point on the vehicle will be Pt. That is, if a pressure tap is placed on the vehicle at this point, it will record the total pressure.

Consider what must happen to the streamlines flowing above the hood. As they

first turn in the upward direction, the curvature is concave upward.

At a distance well above the vehicle where the streamlines are still straight, the

static pressure must be the same as the ambient.

In order for the air stream to be curved upward, the static pressure in that

region must be higher than ambient to provide the force necessary to turn the air flow.
If the static pressure is higher, then the velocity must decrease in this region in

order to obey Bernoulli's Equation.

Conversely, as the flow turns to follow the hood (downward curvature at the lip

of the hood) the pressure must go below ambient in order to bend the flow, and the velocity must increase. These points are illustrated in Fig. showing flow over a cylinder.

Pressure and velocity gradients in the airflow over a body

In the absence of friction the air would simply flow up over the

roof and down the back side of the vehicle, exchanging pressure for velocity as it did at the front. In that case, the pressure forces on the back side of the vehicle would exactly balance those on the front, and there would be no drag produced. The drag is due in part to friction of the air on the surface of the vehicle, and in part to the way the friction alters the main flow down the back side of the vehicle. Its explanation comes about from understanding the action of boundary layers in the flow over an object. Consider a uniform flow approaching a sharp-edged body as shown in Fig.

Development of boundary layers

Flow separation in an adverse gradient pressure

Because of the low pressure, the flow along the sides of the car will also attempt to feed air into this region and may add to the potential for separation. The general air flow patterns over the top and sides of a car are shown in Figure

Pressure Distribution on Vehicle

Pressure co-efficients plotted normal to surface

Pressure distribution along centre line of a car

Note that a negative pressure is developed at the front edge of the

hood as the flow rising over the front of the vehicle attempts to turn and follow horizontally along the hood. The adverse pressure gradient in this region has the potential to stall the boundary layer flow creating drag in this area. Near the base of the windshield and cowl, the flow must he turned upward, thus high pressure is experienced. Over the roof line the pressure again goes negative as the air flow tries to follow the roof contour. The pressure remains low down over the backlite and on to the trunk because of the continuing curvature.

Aerodynamic lift and drag on different vehicle styles

Effect of separation point dirt deposition at the rear

The high degree of turbulence in the separation zone entrains moisture and dirt kicked up from the roadway by the tires. If the separation zone includes these items, dirt will be deposited on these areas and vision will be obstructed. Figure illustrates this phenomenon.

Aerodynamic forces
As a result of the air stream interacting with the vehicle, forces and moments are imposed. These may be defined systematically as the three forces

and three moments shown in table below, acting about the principal axes of the car. The reactions are as follows:
Direction Longitudinal (x-axis, positive rearward) Lateral (y-axis, positive to the right) Vertical (z-axis, positive upward) Force Drag Side force Lift Moment Rolling Moment Pitching Moment Yawing Moment

Drag Components
Drag is the largest and most important aerodynamic force

encountered by passenger cars at normal highway speeds. The overall drag on a vehicle derives from contributions of many sources. Various aids may be used to reduce the effects of specific factors. Table lists the main sources of drag and the potential for drag reductions in these areas estimated for cars in the 1970s.

Drag co-efficient Component Forebody Afterbody Underbody Skin Friction Total Body Drag Wheels and wheel wells Drip rails Window Recesses

Typical values 0.05 0.14 0.06 0.025 0.275 0.09 0.01 0.01

External mirrors
Total protuberance Drag Cooling system Total internal drag

0.12 0.025 0.025

Overall total drag

Vehicle of 1980s Cars Vans Pick up tricks

0.30-0.35 0.33-0.35 0.42-0.46

For the vehicle represented in the table, approximately 65% (.275/.42) of the

drag arises from the body (forebody, afterbody, underbody and skin friction) The major contributor is the afterbody because of the drag produced by the separation zone at the rear. It is in this area that the maximum potential for drag reduction is possible. Fig. below shows the influence of rear end inclination angle on the drag for various lengths of rear extension (beyond the rear edge of the roof line)

Influence of rear end inclination on drag

Forebody drag is influenced by design of the front end and windshield

angle. Generally the "roundness" of the front end establishes the area over which the dynamic pressure can act to induce drag. Fig. shows the influence of the height of the front edge of the vehicle

Influence of front end design on drag

The location of this point determines the location of the

streamline flowing to the stagnation point. This streamline is important as it establishes the separation of flow above and below the body. Minimum drag is obtained when the stagnation point is kept low on the frontal profile of the vehicle. A well-rounded shape, in contrast to the crisp lines traditionally given to the frontal/grill treatment of passenger cars, is equally important to aerodynamics. A rounded low hood line can yield reductions of 5 to 15% in the overall drag coefficient.

The windshield establishes the flow direction as it approaches

the horizontal roof. Thus its angle has a direct influence on drag, particularly on trucks. Shallow angles reduce drag, but complicate vehicle design by allowing increased solar heating loads and placing more critical demands on the manufacturer of the windshield to minimize distortion at shallow angles. Fig. shows the change in drag as the windshield angle is increased from the nominal angle of 28 degrees. With a steep angle, the air velocity approaching the windshield is reduced by the high pressure in that region. With a shallow angle, the wind speed will he higher, adding to the aerodynamic loads on the windshield wipers.

Influence of windshield angle on drag

The underbody is a critical area generating body drag. Suspensions,

exhaust systems and other protruding components on the underbody are responsible for the drag. The air flow in this area is a shear plane controlled by zero air speed on the road surface, and induced flow by drag of the underbody components. The recognized fix for minimizing underbody drag is the use of a smooth underbody panel. Protuberances from the body represent a second area where careful design can reduce drag. The wheels and wheel wells are a major contributor in this class. Significant drag develops at the wheels because of the turbulent, re-circulating flow in the cavities. Fig. illustrates the complex flow patterns that occur around a wheel. The sharp edges of the wheel cutout provide opportunities to induce flow in the horizontal plane, while the rotating wheel tends to induce circulation in the vertical plane. These effects allow the wheel to influence more flow than simply that which is seen because of its frontal area presented to the flow.

Air flow re-circulation in a wheel well

The cooling system is the last major contributor to drag. Air flow passing through the radiator impacts on the engine and the firewall,

exerting its dynamic pressure as drag on the vehicle. The air flow pattern inside a typical engine compartment may be very chaotic due to the lack of aerodynamic treatment in this area. Fig. below illustrates this situation compartment before spilling out through the underside openings. The momentum exchange translates directly into increased drag.

Air flow pattern in a typical engine compartment

Aerodynamic Aids
Bumper Spoilers :
Front bumper spoilers are aerodynamic surfaces extending downward

from the bumper to block and redirect the shear flow that impacts on the underbody components. While the spoiler contributes pressure drag, at least with a shallow depth the reduction in underbody drag is more significant. As spoiler depth is increased, eventually the increasing pressure drag outweighs further reduction in underbody drag and the overall drag increases. The low pressure produced also has the effect of reducing front-end lift.

Air-Dams : Air dams are flow-blocking surfaces installed at the perimeter of the radiator to improve flow through the radiator at lower vehicle speeds. The improvement derives from the decreased pressure behind the radiator/fan, and may reduce drag by reduction of pressure on the firewall.

Deck-lid Spoilers :
Spoilers and air foils on the rear deck may serve several purposes. By deflecting the air upward, as shown in Figure 4.18, the pressure is

increased on the rear deck creating a down force at the most advantageous point on the vehicle to reduce rear lift. The spoilers may also serve to stabilize the vortices in the separation flow, thus reducing aerodynamic buffeting. In general, they tend to increase drag.

Window and Pillar Treatments :

Drip rails and offsets between windows and pillars on acarbody are always

sources of drag. Disturbance to the air flow in these regions may cause small separation zones. The disturbance to the air in the high-velocity air stream causes momentum loss which creates drag. Smooth contours are important not only for drag reduction, but also for reduction of aerodynamic noise.

Optimization :
Adaptation of streamlined shapes from other disciplines (e.g., ship building)

at the turn of the century. Application of the knowledge of fluid mechanics from aircraft aerodynamics around the 1930s. Current efforts to optimize the numerous details of the design to obtain good air flow characteristics.

Drag :- Because air flow over a vehicle (or any other body for that matter)
is so complex, it is necessary to develop semi-empirical models to represent the effect. Therefore, aerodynamic drag is characterized by the equation:

The term 1/2 V2 in the above equation is the dynamic pressure of the air, and is often referred to as the "q," typically expressed in units of pounds per square foot. The drag coefficient, CD, is determined empirically for the car.

Air Density : The air density is variable depending on temperature, pressure, and humidity conditions. Density at other conditions can be estimated for the prevailing pressure, Pr, and temperature, Tr, conditions by the equation:

Drag co-efficient : The drag coefficient is determined experimentally from wind tunnel tests or coast down tests. The definition of CD comes from Eq.

The drag coefficient varies over a broad range with different

shapes. Fig. shows the coefficients for a number of shapes. In each case it is presumed that the air approaching the body has no lateral component (i.e., it is straight along the longitudinal axis of the vehicle). Note that the simple flat plate has a drag coefficient of 1.95.

Drag co-efficient of various bodies

This coefficient means that the drag force is 1.95 times as large as the dynamic pressure acting over the area of the plate. The extreme drag produced by the plate results from the fact that the air spilling around the plate creates a separation area much larger than the plate itself. In practice, a vehicle driving along a road experiences atmospheric winds in addition to the wind component arising from its speed. The atmospheric wind will be random in direction with respect to the vehicle's direction of travel. Thus the relative wind seen by the vehicle will consist of the large component due to its speed, plus a smaller atmospheric wind component in any direction. Fig. illustrates how the relative wind will vary randomly.

Relative wind seen by motor vehicle on the road

When the atmospheric wind blows toward the vehicle a

"headwind" is present, and the total velocity used in is:


Side Force
The lateral wind components will also impose a side force on

the vehicle attempting to change its direction of travel. The exact effect depends both on the vehicle and the nature of the wind. In strong crosswinds, the side force is typically greater than the drag force, such that the angle of the overall wind force is much greater than the relative wind angle. The aerodynamic shape of the vehicle and even the steering system characteristics affect performance in this sense. Crosswind behavior is an important enough aspect of aerodynamics that it is discussed separately in a later section.

Under steady-state wind conditions, the side force imposed on

a vehicle in a crosswind is given by:


Fig. shows typical characteristics of CS as a function of wind angle. The side force coefficient is zero at zero relative wind angle, and grows

nearly linearly with the angle for the first 20 to 40 degrees. The slope of the gradient varies somewhat with vehicle type, but will typically he in the range of 0.035/deg to 0.06/deg.

Side force co-efficient as a function of yaw angle for typical vehicles

Lift Force
The pressure differential from the top to the bottom of the vehicle causes

a lift force. These forces are significant concerns in aerodynamic optimization of a vehicle because of their influence on driving stability. The lift force is measured at the centerline of the vehicle at the center of the wheelbase. The force, LA, is quantified by the equation:

As seen in Figure, the lift force is dependent on the overall shape of the vehicle. At zero wind angle, lift coefficients normally fall in the range of 0.3 to 0.5 for modern passenger cars but under crosswind conditions the coefficient may increase dramatically reaching values of 1 or more

Lift can have a negative impact on handling through the

reduced control forces available at the tires. Front lift, which reduces steering controllability, is reduced by front bumper spoilers and by rearward inclination of front surfaces. Lift at the rear of the vehicle, which also reduces stability, is the most variable with vehicle design. In general, designs that cause the flow to depart with a downward angle at the rear of the vehicle create rear lift. Lift can be decreased by use of underbody pans, spoilers, and a change in the angle of attack of the body (a 3-degree cant on the body can decrease lift force by 40 percent).