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Experiments and Computer Simulations on Aerodynamic Drag Reduction of Light Vehicle-Trailer Systems Open Access


Other title
computational fluid dynamics
drag reduction
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Boyer, Henry R.
Supervisor and department
Lange, Carlos F. (Mechanical Engineering)
Sigurdson, Lorenz (Mechanical Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Koch, Bob (Mechanical Engineering)
Sigurdson, Lorenz (Mechanical Engineering)
Lange, Carlos F. (Mechanical Engineering)
Wilson, John (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Wind-tunnel experiments and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) were performed to study the effect a deflector had on the flow and drag force associated with a 2010 F-150 truck and cargo trailer (Light Vehicle-Trailer System - LVTS). Image Correlation Velocimetry (ICV) on smokewire streaklines measured the velocity field on the model mid-plane. CFD was used to elucidate the flow, calculate the drag force, and study the effects of a moving ground-plane and blockage. The drag was reduced by approximately 13% at a Re of 14,900 with a moving ground-plane, and 17% without. Experiments suggested that the large difference in Re between wind-tunnel and the full-scale 5 million is not expected to significantly diminish the full-scale relevance of the drag results. One low Re effect was the presence of a separation bubble on the hood of the tow vehicle whose size reduced with an increase in Re. Three other characteristic flow patterns were identified: separation off the lead vehicle cab, stagnation of the free-stream on the trailer face for the no-deflector case, and subsequent separation at the trailer front corner. Comparisons of the ICV and CFD results with no deflector indicated good agreement, particularly in the direction of the velocity vectors. The ICV method under-evaluated the speed of the flow by up to 15%. The smoke streaklines and CFD streamlines agreed well for the no deflector case. However, for the deflector case, the CFD found an entirely different topological solution absent in the experiment. A pair of vertically-oriented vortices were found, wrapped around the front of the trailer on the mid-plane.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Boyer H., Sigurdson L., (2014) Flow Visualization of Light Vehicle-Trailer Systems Aerodynamics. J. Vis. 18 (3) pp. 459 - 468 doi:10.1007/s12650-014-0263-9

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