Investigation of Wheel Aerodynamic Resistance of Passenger Cars
Journal article, 2014
There are a number of numerical and experimental studies of the aerodynamic performance of wheels that have been published. They show that wheels and wheel-housing flows are responsible for a substantial part of the total aerodynamic drag on passenger vehicles. Previous investigations have also shown that aerodynamic resistance moment acting on rotating wheels, sometimes referred to as ventilation resistance or ventilation torque is a significant contributor to the total aerodynamic resistance of the vehicle; therefore it should not be neglected when designing the wheel-housing area.
This work presents a numerical study of the wheel ventilation resistance moment and factors that affect it, using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). It is demonstrated how pressure and shear forces acting on different rotating parts of the wheel affect the ventilation torque. It is also shown how a simple change of rim design can lead to a significant decrease in power consumption of the vehicle. A way of introducing ventilation torque into the driving resistance equation is discussed.
The results show that it is possible to assess ventilation resistance moment using CFD. It is demonstrated that brake discs have almost negligible ventilation torque, while the contribution of rims and tyres may vary depending on the rim design used and the velocity of the vehicle. It is also shown that for the designs investigated the equivalent ventilation force has a second order dependency on the vehicle velocity which allows an introduction of a ventilation resistance coefficient CD(vent) that is independent of velocity.