Aerodynamic study of three cars in tandem using computational fluid dynamics

Authors

  • H. Abdul-Rahman Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia. Phone: +60389216522; Fax: +60389118314
  • H. Moria Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology, Yanbu Industrial College, Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah City 41912, Saudi Arabia
  • M.R. Rasani Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia. Phone: +60389216522; Fax: +60389118314

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.15282/15.3.2021.02.0646

Keywords:

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD), platoon, aerodynamic force, drag coefficient

Abstract

Aerodynamics of vehicles account for nearly 80% of fuel losses on the road. Today, the use of the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) allows vehicles to be guided at a distance close to each other and has been shown to help reduce the drag coefficients of the vehicles involved. In this article, the aim is to investigate the effect of distances between a three car platoons, to their drag and lift coefficients, using computational fluid dynamics. To that end, a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation was first performed on a single case and platoon of two Ahmed car models using the STAR-CCM+ software, for validation with previous experimental studies. Significant drop in drag coefficients were observed on platoon models compared to a single model. Comparison between the k-w and k-e turbulence models for a two car platoon found that the k-w model more closely approximate the experimental results with errors of only 8.66% compared to 21.14% by k-e turbulence model. Further studies were undertaken to study the effects of various car gaps (0.5L, 1.0L and 1.5L; L = length of the car) to the aerodynamics of a three-car platoon using CFD simulation. Simulation results show that the lowest drag coefficient that impacts on vehicle fuel savings varies depending on the car's position. For the front car, the lowest drag coefficient (CD) can be seen for car gaps corresponding to X1 = 0.5L and X2 = 0.5L, where CD = 0.1217, while its lift coefficient (CL) was 0.0366 (X1 and X2 denoting first to second and second to third car distance respectively). For the middle car, the lowest drag coefficient occurred when X1 = 1.5L and X2 = 0.5L, which is 0.1397. The lift coefficient for this car was -0.0611. Meanwhile, for the last car, the lowest drag coefficient was observed when X1 = 0.5L and X2 = 1.5L, i.e. CD = 0.263. The lift coefficient for this car was 0.0452. In this study, the lowest drag coefficient yields the lowest lift coefficient. The study also found that for even X1 and X2 spacings, the drag coefficient increased steadily from the front to the last car, while the use of different spacings were found to decrease drag coefficient of the rear car compared to the front car and had a positive impact on platoon driving and fuel-saving.

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Published

2021-09-19 — Updated on 2021-09-19

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How to Cite

H. Abdul-Rahman, Moria, H., & Mohammad Rasani, M. R. (2021). Aerodynamic study of three cars in tandem using computational fluid dynamics. Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Sciences, 15(3), 8228–8240. https://doi.org/10.15282/15.3.2021.02.0646