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Using Openfoam to Model Energy Taken From the Swirl Behind a Car

Using Openfoam to Model Energy Taken From the Swirl Behind a Car

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Proceedings of OFW4

4th OpenFOAM Workshop June 1-4, Montreal, QC, Canada

Louis Gagnon, louis.gagnon.10@ulaval.ca Marc J. Richard, marc.richard@gmc.ulaval.ca Benoît Lévesque, benoit.levesque@gmc.ulaval.ca
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering Laval University Québec (Québec) Canada

Abstract. A two-dimensional numerical analysis of the Ahmed body was performed using the k-ω-SST turbulence model from the OpenFOAM software. The analysis was then modified to include a rotating paddle wheel that captures energy from the swirl that forms behind the vehicle. The rotating wheel is modeled using a General Grid Interface (GGI) and the energy captured is calculated with the help of the forces library of the OpenFOAM software. Power generation reached 16.1 watts at optimal conditions. Total drag reductions up to 8.2% were found. Most computations were run in parallel on a dual core computer. 1. INTRODUCTION In the perspective that a large portion of the energy consumed by ground vehicles is used to overcome pressure drag and that the scientific community still questions whether the optimal drag reduction on a vehicle would equate to a null pressure drag coefficient, it is attempted in this paper to show how moving parts can be added to an automobile model to reduce the energy it consumes to overcome wind resistance. That is achieved by capturing energy from the swirls and modifying the flow that exists behind a hatchback car. The modification is triggered by a rotating device located in the detached flow behind the vehicle. It is suggested that the energy should be recaptured in the form of electricity because of the current trend toward hybrid vehicles. The moving parts in question are inspired by paddle wheels and their purpose is to recapture energy from the vortices located behind a moving vehicle. Although the simulations were performed on a car model, tractor-trailer rigs would be ideal candidates for the type of energy capture presented in this paper, as well as any vehicle involved in a lot of highway driving. 2. THE CAR MODEL The Ahmed car model was chosen as the shape to analyze in the simulations because it has received widespread attention from the scientific community since its first appearance when Ahmed, Ramm and Faltin (1984) used it in a wind tunnel to mimic the flow found around a typical car. This model was also chosen by the European Research Community On Flow, Turbulence, And Combustion (ERCOFTAC) to benchmark different CFD codes. The first goal was thus to create a mesh-model combination that would reproduce the generally accepted flow characteristics of the Ahmed body and, most important, its drag coefficient with a minimal error. Reproducing the experimental drag coefficient of the Ahmed body has been a challenge for many researchers that studied the Ahmed body because of the difficulty to precisely locate the start of the separation bubble on the rear slant angle of the body. However, a general idea of the appropriate drag coefficient was grasped from the published research to be in the range of 0.25 to 0.35 when the rear slant angle is 25 degrees. It must also be pointed out that between the two widely used angles of 25 and 35 degrees there is a drag crisis that occurs at 30 degrees where the experimental drag value reaches 37.8 (Ahmed, Ramm and Faltin, 1984). Several attempts were done by different authors to reproduce the transition phenomenon that occurs between those two angles where the flow actually goes from having its longitudinal vortices start on the rear slant angle of the vehicle to having them start only on the lower, vertical, rear end. Those vortices have a significant influence on the three-dimensional drag on the Ahmed body because they interact with the separation bubble located on the slant angle. However, Beaudoin and Aider (2008) have experimentally demonstrated that those vortices could be avoided by use of side wings on the slant angle wall of the model and that removing them can also reduce drag. The goal of this project is to deal with the middle, two-dimensional, separation bubble which exists behind the body and hosts two span-wise vortices that meet approximately in the middle of the rear vertical wall of the car. The energy lost to the top vortex is what is recaptured by the paddle wheels used in this paper.

Proceedings of OFW4

4th OpenFOAM Workshop June 1-4, Montreal, QC, Canada

Figure 1. The Ahmed body, adapted with permission from (Hinterberger, García-Villalba and Rodi, 2004). Throughout this paper, the x, y, z axes represent stream-wise, vertical, and span-wise directions, respectively.

Figure 2. The two-dimensional representation of the Ahmed body with the paddle wheel located behind its rear vertical wall. 3. CFD ANALYSIS 3.1 Turbulence model The turbulence model that yielded the most appropriate result is the k-ω-SST model; it is also known for its strong capability to model attached and detached flows as well as flows subjected to adverse pressure gradients. LES models were considered but were not deemed appropriate for two-dimensional modeling even though some authors have reported successful use of LES in two dimensions (Bouris and Bergeles, 1999). Many reports of RANS models being used with a reasonable error to model the Ahmed body are available in the literature. The k-ω-SST model features an automatic wall treatment and uses a k-ω type of model within the boundary layer and a k- type of model in the free-stream flow. Considering that Bayraktar found good results using the RNG k- model on the Ahmed body (Bayraktar, Landman and Baysal, 2001), use of k- equations in the free-stream flow should give reliable results. For more information on the kω-SST model the reader is encouraged to see the paper by Menter which mathematically describes the turbulence model (Menter and Esch, 2001).

Proceedings of OFW4

4th OpenFOAM Workshop June 1-4, Montreal, QC, Canada

3.2 Parameters and boundary conditions The air velocity used in the analysis is U = 60 m/s and kinematic viscosity is ν = 14.75 × 10−6 m2 /s. The Reynolds number of this analysis, based on model length is thus Re = 4.25 × 106 . Boundary conditions based on a 0.5% turbulence intensity (Ahmed, Ramm and Faltin, 1984) and turbulent length scale of 0.05 m were used to estimate k and ω inlet boundary conditions. 3.3 Mesh A Reynolds number of 4.25 × 106 requires a very fine mesh. It was initially attempted to make use of a structured boundary layer mesh around the whole vehicle. However, due to the diverse behavior of the flow near the body, a structured boundary layer mesh was only used at locations of very small longitudinal variations of the flow properties. Thus, only two small zones of the mesh are structured and use about 500 less cells than an equivalent unstructured mesh. Using a boundary layer mesh on the front was not appropriate because the pressure gradient along the tangent of the surface is as strong as along the normal. On the rear slant-angle and vertical surfaces a structured mesh was also inappropriate due to sudden changes in pressure at specific locations and a velocity distribution typical of detached flows. It was also necessary to have a well resolved mesh behind the car to properly simulate the wake. The mesh on the wall of the vehicle also required a fine resolution because of its influence on the drag coefficient. The zone just upstream of the vehicle was meshed slightly coarser than the wake because there are no vortices in front of the car: only a saddle point that affects the upstream flow. Considering that it is generally recommended to have at least 15 nodes in the boundary layer and that the flat plate boundary layer is estimated to be 2 cm thick (Cousteix, 1989), it is not possible to precisely resolve the said layer and the simulations rely mostly on wall models from the solver. In his three-dimensional numerical analysis of the Ahmed body, Bayraktar settled for a 4.4M cells unstructured mesh because it yielded a fine correlation between experimental and numerical drag coefficients (Bayraktar, Landman and Baysal, 2001). From that number of cells and the assumption that the relative numbers of cells in longitudinal, lateral, and vertical directions were a, 0.25a, and 0.2a, respectively it was found using Eq. (1) that an equivalent 2D mesh would have 40K cells. Ncells,2D is the number of cells of the equivalent two-dimensional mesh. The mesh that was used for the present analysis is slightly rougher and has 27.5K cells. a × 0.2a × 0.25a = 4.4 × 106 =⇒ a = 444.80 3.4 Rotating interface ∴ Ncells,2D = a × 0.2a ≈ 40000 (1)

Figure 3. Mesh on the rear of the vehicle and paddle wheel The General Grid Interface (GGI) of the OpenFOAM software was used to allow the paddle wheel to rotate with respect to the car. This is accomplished by having the solver interpolate the values at a virtual interface which is indicated

Proceedings of OFW4

4th OpenFOAM Workshop June 1-4, Montreal, QC, Canada

to the solver by the definition of two coincident circles that delimit the inner (rotating part) and outer (fixed car) parts of the mesh. As seen in Fig. 2, the mesh resolution at the interface is increased in order to make the interface as close as possible to a perfect circle and reduce to a minimum the empty zones that occur between the inner and outer parts of the mesh. 3.5 Validation The results from the unaltered two-dimensional Ahmed body simulations ran were used to calculate the drag coefficient differences between the energy-recapturing and the reference model. It was thus necessary to have a certain level of confidence towards the solution of the flow around that particular body. This level of assurance was gained by running a mesh refinement test with a mesh that contained twice as many nodes in each direction. The refined mesh has 111.5K cells. The results from the two meshes matched, within a reasonable error, for all of the flow characteristics. An accurate enough correlation between the two mesh’s drag coefficients was also found. The simulation with the finer mesh yielded a slightly higher drag coefficient which interestingly makes the calculation of total drag reduction by use of the paddle wheel conservative. The refined mesh gives a finer view of the flow properties but both clearly share the same general flow characteristics. 4. ENERGY CAPTURE As mentioned in the introduction, the goal is to have an added part that captures energy from the flow. For results to be interesting the total drag with the added piece cannot be higher than that of the unaltered Ahmed body; or, in case that the total drag is increased then the energy captured from the flow would have to surpass the energy lost to drag. To calculate how much power is extracted from the flow, the moment around the z-axis (Mz ) is taken from the analysis and equated into ecapture according to Eq. (2). Also, Eq. (3) serves as a measure of how much power is required to overcome a specific drag coefficient at the traveling velocity of the car. ecapture = Mz × R × 2π w × 60 T (2) (3) (4)

1 edrag = ( × ρU 2 ACD ) × U 2 A = 0.288 × 0.389

U is the velocity of the car and the free-stream flow. ρ is the density of the ambient air, taken as 1.2kg/m . R is the rotational velocity of the paddle wheel. A is the frontal area of the car and CD is the drag coefficient considered for conversion into equivalent energy. w is the width of the three-dimensional Ahmed body and T is the thickness of the twodimensional model used in the analysis. In a practical application, the power captured from the flow would be converted into electricity. This assumption is made for two reasons, which are the current trend towards electric and hybrid vehicles and the ability of an electric generator to regulate the forces applied on the paddle wheel while harvesting electrical power from it. Old fashion paddle wheels are used to keep the analysis of energy capture from the swirl simple. A constant rotating velocity of the wheel is imposed and power generated is calculated from the average of moments acting on the paddle wheel. To apply this to practical implementation one could use a paddle wheel with a relatively large moment of inertia but that creates a problem of added weight to the vehicle. The other approach, more realistic, is to have the generator programmed to "damp" velocity fluctuations by making it respond to fluctuations of Mz by giving or taking power to the wheel. It is probably preferable to have a steady rotation velocity for design considerations. 5. RESULTS In the results, CD,body and CD,part represent the drag coefficients on the Ahmed body and on the added part, respectively. CD,power is the energy saved by the avoided drag when vehicle travels at 60 m/s. ecapture is energy in watts captured by the rotating paddle wheel. The reference case gives a CD,body of 0.300 and that value is used when quantifying the amount of drag saved by the various configurations. The reference CD,body = 0.3 requires 4.36kW when the three-dimensional Ahmed car is moving at 60m/s. CD,saved is the coefficient of the avoided drag and is defined in Eq. (5). CD,saved = 0.3 − CD,body − CD,part 5.1 Selected cases 5.1.1 Fixed rotational velocity In Tab. 1, results from cases of rotating paddle wheels are reported. The wheel’s center of rotation y-position is 0.19 m below the top edge of the body. All wheels have 4 blades. (5)

Proceedings of OFW4

4th OpenFOAM Workshop June 1-4, Montreal, QC, Canada

Table 1. Results from selected cases with fixed rotational velocity. Case Center x Wheel radius RPM CD,body CD,part CD,saved CD,power ecapture
50 40 ecapture (W) 30 20 10 0 -10 -20 1.45 1.455 1.46 1.465 Time (s) 1.47 1.475 1.48

1 1.077 0.05 2500 0.3084 -0.0323 0.0240 348 0.9

2 1.11 0.04 2000 0.2939 -0.0148 0.0209 304 8.2

3 1.077 0.05 2000 0.3122 -0.0335 0.0213 309 12.8

4 1.11 0.04 4000 0.2954 -0.0207 0.0252 366 -4.6

5 1.077 0.04 2000 0.3130 -0.0353 0.0227 324 6.0

6 1.077 0.05 2300 0.3122 -0.0334 0.0213 309 10.38

Figure 4. Plot of ecapture vs Time for one full revolution of the paddle wheel from case 3
0.04 0.035 0.03 CD,saved 0.025 0.02 0.015 0.01 0.005 0 1.45 1.455 1.46 1.465 Time (s) 1.47 1.475 1.48

Figure 5. Plot of CD,saved vs Time for one full revolution of the paddle wheel from case 3 Figures (4) and (5) illustrate the energy captured and the drag coefficient avoided, respectively, for a full revolution of the paddle wheel in case 3. The data is taken from t = 1.45s to t = 1.48s. To illustrate how the flow stabilizes in the first tenths of second of the simulation, the output power from case 6 is plotted against time in Fig. (6). Each calculation is done on one full revolution of the paddle wheel, which is equivalent to 4 geometric cycles. After time t = 0.26s the power output stabilizes at ecapture = 10.38 ± 0.01W thoughout the simulation. 5.1.2 Variable rotational velocity The OpenFOAM GGI code was modified to allow the wheel to rotate according to a sinusoidal function. Two results are reported here and they are both based on the geometry of case 3, reported in the fixed rotational velocity cases. Case 7 and case 8 have rotational velocity functions, Rvar , defined in Eq. (6) and Eq. (7), respectively. R is the base rotational velocity, which is 2000 RPM for both cases, and t is time in seconds. The only difference between the two cases is the phase angle of the sinusoidal function. Rvar was designed so that the paddle wheel moves at maximum rotational velocity when the maximum energy, and thus maximum Mz , are seen from the fixed rotational velocity cases. This was done in an attempt to reduce fluctuations in the energy generated. Since the energy production has a period exactly equal to a fourth of the period of oscillation of the wheel the frequency of the sinusoidal function is also chosen as a fourth of the period of the wheel. The phase of the sinusoidal function comes from a graphical approximation to match the peaks of power

Proceedings of OFW4

4th OpenFOAM Workshop June 1-4, Montreal, QC, Canada

Power output (W)

10 0





Time (s)





Figure 6. Plot of power output vs time calculated per paddle-wheel revolution starting at t = 0. Each cycle is 0.0261 seconds long based on a rotational velocity of 2300 RPM. Data taken from case 6. generation and variable rotational velocity. Rvar,7 = R × (1.0 + 0.2 × sin(−2.9249 + Rvar,8 = R × (1.0 + 0.2 × sin(−2.3 + R×π × t) 7.5 (6) (7)

R×π × t) 7.5

Table 2. Results from selected cases with variable rotational velocity. Case CD,body CD,part CD,saved CD,power ecapture 7 0.3095 -0.0342 0.0248 359 12.0 8 0.3104 -0.0335 0.0231 336 16.1

Power output (W)

16 15 14 1.8 1.9 2 2.1
Time (s)




Figure 7. Plot of power output vs time calculated per paddle-wheel revolution starting at t = 0. Each cycle is 0.03 seconds long based on a rotational velocity of 2000 RPM. Data taken from case 7. 5.2 Comparison cases Some cases of non-rotating paddle wheels and modified wheels were run to test whether the drag reduction from the rotating paddle wheels was exclusive to their rotation or could be achieved by a similar but non-rotating object. Results of these cases are summarized in Tab. 3. The added parts have center positions of (1.077, -0.19), radii of 0.05 m, and

Proceedings of OFW4

4th OpenFOAM Workshop June 1-4, Montreal, QC, Canada

Power output (W)

10 5 0 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8
Time (s)





Figure 8. Plot of power output vs time calculated per paddle-wheel revolution starting at t = 0. Each cycle is 0.03 seconds long based on a rotational velocity of 2000 RPM. Data taken from case 8. 4 blades for cases with blades. Cases 0 and 30 model a fixed paddle wheel rotated by 0 ◦ and 30 from the horizontal position, respectively. Case A models a paddle wheel whose inner radius was enlarged to 0.045 m which makes it almost a cylinder. Case B is a copy of case A but the paddle wheel revolves at 2500 RPM. Power consumed by the paddle wheel in case B is 1.28 watts. Case C is a 0.05 m radius cylinder that does not rotate. Case D is a rough attempt at making the rear of the Ahmed body more streamline in order to compare the drag reduced by this streamline rear with the drag reduced by various wheel configurations. Graphical representation of the comparison cases are given in Tab. 3 to simplify comprehension. Table 3. Results from comparison cases. Case CD,body CD,part CD,saved CD,power 0◦ 0.3111 -0.0046 -0.0065 -94.5 30◦ 0.3063 -0.0069 0.0006 8.8 A 0.3099 -0.0392 0.0292 445 B 0.3288 -0.0351 0.0061 87.9 C 0.3107 -0.0551 0.0445 645 D 0.2151 0.0849 1233

6. DISCUSSION Several configurations of the paddle wheel were tested. The most power captured from the flow is from the case with paddle wheels rotating at 2000 RPM and having a radius of 0.05 m and the power generated is 12.8 watts. The configuration that reduces the drag coefficient the most is a paddle wheel rotating at roughly 4000 RPM, located slightly upwind of the maximum turbulent kinetic energy location, and having a radius of 0.04 m. A full center serves to avoid incoming flow from being diverted between the paddles and wasting some of its kinetic energy in doing so. Cases that do not have a full center paddle wheel do not yield as much energy and are not documented in this paper. It was also noticed that the paddles should not interfere, or at least the least possible, with the flow outside the separation bubble since doing so significantly increases drag without increasing the amount of power generated. It was not expected that the drag would be reduced by the rotating paddle wheels. Therefore, it is questioned whether the reduced drag might be due to the effective body of the modified Ahmed model being more streamline. Thus, tests were run to see if a nonrotating paddle wheel also reduces the drag coefficient. Tests were also run with a non-rotating cylinder fixed behind the vehicle. Non-rotating paddle wheel tests show that the beneficial effect of the rotating paddle wheels is stronger. The test with the non-rotating cylinder of 0.05 m radius (comparison case C) drastically reduces the total drag coefficient of the vehicle-cylinder assembly; however, when looking at Fig. 8 one can question whether the results are valid since the CD,saved strongly fluctuates. The result from the non-rotating cylinder is somewhat troubling because it shows a positive

Proceedings of OFW4

4th OpenFOAM Workshop June 1-4, Montreal, QC, Canada

pressure downstream of the body; usually the pressure downstream of a body subjected to a moving flow is negative. Also, by comparing the velocity streamlines of the reference case with those of the paddle wheel cases on Fig. 9 and 10, respectively, one notices how the upper vortex is much smaller when the rotating paddle wheel is present; this is part of the explanation why the drag coefficient is reduced. Also, the vortex is still present and creates a suction on the paddle wheel thus further increasing CD,saved . The streamlines also show that the flow circulates around the paddle wheel and from the moments one sees that some of the energy of those streamlines is transferred to the wheel. Finally, those two figures also show that the maximum turbulent kinetic energy is lower in the case with the paddle wheel, which very likely indicates that less energy is lost by viscous dissipation. From, the analysis, it seems clear that RPM is highly influent on the output energy of the system. The best results are obtained at 2000 RPM. As expected, when the RPM of the paddle wheel reaches a certain value, the power generated turns into power that has to be fed to the wheel. On the other hand, the problem associated with a too low RPM is that the forces on the paddle wheel do not increase enough to compensate for the lower velocity of the wheel and thus the power generated falls. The fluctuations in energy captured and drag respond to the rotation of the paddle wheel as seen on Fig. 7. Four force cycles are noticeable for each revolution of the paddle wheel. Consider that a full revolution of the paddle wheel corresponds to four quarter cycles which are each geometrically identical. Also, in the published literature, most of all Ahmed body analyses are ran with a fixed floor, and that is different from real-world situations where the floor has a relative velocity with respect to the car equal to the velocity of the car itself. This should not greatly modify the results but it still was reported to have a 8% influence on the drag coefficient (Krajnovic and Davidson, 2005). Krajnovic reported that a moving floor actually influences the flow around the rear slant angle. That zone is where this paper is focused; however, the purpose of this paper is to show how flow structures found on a typical car can be used to generate energy. Specific car models are not analyzed yet and the Ahmed body is only used as a reference to create typical car flows and validate the calculations. Finally, it should be noted that more tests have to be run in order to figure out the best combination of energy capture and drag reduction. The authors believe that it is possible to get a positive energy capture to accompany results of large drag reduction given buy the non-moving cylinder; the good combination of rotational velocity and blade geometry only has to be found. So far the best results come from a variable rotational speed case which shows that the energy capture can be adapted to the flow and motivates the implementation of a GGI code that has a rotating velocity dependent on the flow properties or forces acting upon it. 7. CONCLUSION It was found that the rotating paddle wheel can generate 16.1 watts while reducing drag by 7.7%. It can also reduce drag by 8.4% if power is supplied to the paddle wheel. This reduction is calculated from the extrapolation of twodimensional simulations. This extrapolation should hold as long as a device such as the one that Beaudoin and Aider (2008) experimented with is used to eliminate the influence of the longitudinal vortices on the span-wise vortices. As for future plans, finer meshes, three-dimensional analyses, different blade shapes, flow driven RPM, and the effects of friction, are considered for study. 8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors would like to thank all those who contributed to the development of the OpenFOAM software which made the simulations reported in this paper possible. 9. REFERENCES Ahmed, S. R., Ramm, G. and Faltin, G., 1984, "Some salient features of the time averaged ground vehicle wake", Technical Report TP-840300, Society of Automotive Engineers, Warrendale, Pa., 31 p. Bayraktar, I., Landman, D. and Baysal, O., 2001, "Experimental and computational Investigation of Ahmed body for ground vehicle aerodynamics", SAE Transactions: Journal of Commercial Vehicles, Vol.110, No. 2, pp. 613-626. Bouris, D. and Bergeles, G., 1999, "2D LES of vortex shedding from a square cylinder", Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, Vol.80, pp.31-46. Beaudoin, J.-F. and Aider, J.-L., 2008, "Drag and lift reduction of a 3d bluff body using flaps", Experiments in Fluids, Vol.44, No. 4, pp. 491-501. Cousteix, J., 1989, "Turbulence et couche limite", Cépaduès Éditions, PARIS?? pp. XX166. Hinterberger, C., García-Villalba, M. and Rodi, W., 2004, "Large Eddy Simulation of flow around the Ahmed body", Lecture Notes in Applied and Computational Mechanics, The Aerodynamics of Heavy Vehicles: Trucks, Buses, and Trains, R. McCallen, F. Browand, J. Ross (Eds.), Springer Verlag, pp.. Krajnovic, S. and Davidson, L., 2005, "Influence of floor motions in wind tunnels on the aerodynamics of road vehicles", Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, Vol.93, pp. 677-696. Menter, F. and Esch, T., 2001, "Elements of industrial heat transfer predictions", Proceedings of the 16th Brazilian Congress of Mechanical Engineering, Vol.20, pp. 117-127.

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