Numerical Investigation of Unsteady Crosswind Aerodynamics for Ground Vehicles

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Ground vehicles are subjected to crosswind from various origins such as weather, topography of the ambient environment (land, forest, tunnels, high bushes...) or surrounding traffic. The trend of lowering the weight of vehicles imposes a stronger need for understanding the coupling between crosswind stability, the vehicle external shape and the dynamic properties. Means for reducing fuel consumption of ground vehicles can also conflict with the handling and dynamic characteristics of the vehicle. Streamlined design of vehicle shapes to lower the drag can be a good example of this dilemma. If care is not taken, the streamlined shape can lead to an increase in yaw moment under crosswind conditions which results in a poor handling.The development of numerical methods provides efficient tools to investigate these complex phenomena that are difficult to reproduce experimentally. Time accurate and scale resolving methods, like Detached-Eddy Simulations (DES), are particularly of interest, since they allow a better description of unsteady flows than standard Reynolds Average Navier-Stokes (RANS) models. Moreover, due to the constant increase in computational resources, this type of simulations complies more and more with industrial interests and design cycles.In this thesis, the possibilities offered by DES to simulate unsteady crosswind aerodynamics of simple vehicle models in an industrial framework are explored. A large part of the work is devoted to the grid design, which is especially crucial for truthful results from DES. Additional concerns in simulations of unsteady crosswind aerodynamics are highlighted, especially for the resolution of the wind-gust boundary layer profiles. Finally, the transient behaviour of the aerodynamic loads and the flow structures are analyzed for several types of vehicles. The results simulated with DES are promising and the overall agreement with the experimental data available is good, which illustrates a certain reliability in the simulations. In addition, the simulations show that the force coefficients exhibit highly transient behaviour under gusty conditions.