Wheel Housing Aerodynamics on Heavy Trucks
Paper i proceeding, 2010
Modern trucks have a reasonably optimised cab shape, and there exist several OEM and aftermarket devices for drag reduction for heavy trucks as well. To further reduce the aerodynamic drag major changes to the current layout of the
vehicle are required, or the focus must be shifted from the cab and tractor trailer gap to other regions of the vehicle. The drag of the underbody, including wheel housings, wheels and engine compartment, represents a significant proportion of the aerodynamic drag and there has not been much investigation in this specific area on heavy trucks. To be able to reduce the fuel consumption and to fulfil the
legislated emission standards for heavy trucks it is important to take all areas of the vehicle under consideration, and even though the individual improvements
may be small, the total drag reduction will be substantial. In order to study the flow close to the vehicle underbody it is important to utilise the correct boundary conditions, that is, moving ground and rotating wheels. This work has focused on the flow in the front wheel housings. The flow field around the front wheels under the influence of ground simulation on a heavy truck of standard European configuration was investigated using numerical simulations. The in- and outflow to the wheel housing was located and the vortices originating from the front wheels were identified. This information was then used to identify which areas of the wheel housing having the greatest potential for aerodynamic improvements by changing the front wheel housing design. Furthermore, several wheel housing design parameters were defined, and their influence on the flow field and aerodynamic drag were investigated. Examples of these parameters are the shape of the wheel housing opening and implementation of wheel housing ventilation. It was found that there is potential for reducing the aerodynamic drag by applying these geometric changes to the wheel housing, and several of the configurations could be implemented on current production vehicles.