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Gurney ap aerodynamic unsteadiness

D. B. Sims-Williams, A. J. White and R. G. Dominy

School of Engineering, University of Durham

A Gurney ap is a thin strip of material attached at the trailing edge of the upper surface
of a racing car wing in order to increase the downforce of a wing of limited size. The
ow around a single element racing car wing with and without a 4.7% Gurney ap has
been investigated experimentally and computationally. Attention has been concentrated
on the unsteady wake which is characterized by alternate vortex shedding as is observed
behind circular cylinders, at plates and other two-dimensional bluff bodies. Using
novel experimental and postprocessing techniques it has been possible to determine
the instantaneous velocity and pressure elds in the intermediate and far wake. The
uctuating pressures on the surface of the aerofoil have been measured and integrated to
determine the uctuating lift and pitching moment on the wing. These were found to
be small compared with the time-averaged values despite the strong uctuations in
the wake. Steady-state computational uid dynamic simulations were performed and
the aerofoil surface pressure distribution was predicted accurately. The relationship
between wake unsteadiness and the pressure acting on the rear of bluff bodies (the base
pressure) is discussed and its importance to Gurney aps is assessed.
Keywords: aerodynamics, Gurney, motorsport, vortex shedding, computational uid
dynamics (CFD)

Cp o

aerofoil chord
drag coefcient drag force/[C Span (Po ) Ps)]
lift coefcient downforce/[C Span (Po ) Ps)]
lift coefcient uctuation [standard deviation of CL(t)]
pitch coefcient [tail-down moment at x/C 0.25)/(C2 Span (Po ) Ps)]
pitch coefcient uctuation [standard deviation of CM(t)]
static pressure coefcient (Ps ) Ps)/(Po ) Ps)
pressure coefcient uctuation [standard deviation of Cp(t)]
total pressure coefcient (Po ) Ps)/(Po ) Ps)
base dimension
frequency of vortex shedding
Gurney height

Correspondence address:
David B. Sims-Williams, School of Engineering,
University of Durham, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK.
Tel.: +44 (0)191 3743935. Fax: +44 (0)191 3742550.

1999 Blackwell Science Ltd Sports Engineering (1999) 2, 221233


Gurney aerodynamics D. B. Sims-Williams et al.


local total pressure

free stream total pressure
local static pressure
free stream static pressure
streamwise position
Strouhal number
axial (or streamwise) velocity
uctuating hot-wire effective velocity (standard deviation)
free stream velocity
vertical velocity
axial position
vertical position
vorticity in xy plane

The aerodynamic design of racing cars inevitably
requires compromise between the high downforce
that is required for high cornering speeds and the
low drag that increases the potential straight line
velocity. With a few, rare exceptions the balance
leans towards the high downforce conguration
since the increased corner entry and exit speeds
largely compensate for lower top speed in terms
of total elapsed times along the straights whilst
maintaining the gains made through the corners.
The constraints imposed by the regulations for
the majority of racing formulae make it difcult,
if not impossible, for engineers to achieve the
downforce that they would wish to achieve. These
constraints are mostly geometric which directly or
indirectly limit the size of the aerodynamic devices
that are used to create the required downforce. One
of the most signicant constraints that is commonly enforced relates to the maximum height and
rearward projection of the rear wing. Because the
downforce that is generated depends upon both the
wing shape and its size, the obvious means to
increase its downforce is to make it larger. Owing
to the constraints on the trailing edge location, this
can only be achieved by moving the leading edge
forward and downwards but this moves the wing
further into a region of low energy, highly turbulent ow that does little to enhance performance.

An alternative approach is therefore required to

achieve high downforce from a small aerofoil with a
high leading edge. The device that is most commonly adopted is the `Gurney ap' which consists
of a thin strip of material that projects upwards
from the trailing edge of the wing in a direction
that is approximately perpendicular to the surface.
Typically these devices have a height of between
2% and 6% of the wing chord. Gurney aps are
equally commonly used on the front wings of single
seat racing cars where the driving constraints are
different but the objectives are the same, namely
to generate high downforce.
Liebeck (1978) was the rst to publish data from
experiments on an aerofoil tted with a small
Gurney ap and his results demonstrated clear
increases in both lift and drag. He also hypothesized a trailing edge wake ow consisting of a pair
of counter-rotating vortices in the near wake. Katz
& Largman (1989) presented similar results from a
two-element aerofoil with specic application to
race cars although no attempt was made to investigate the ow physics. Surface pressure distributions
about a two-element race car wing by Dominy
(1992) demonstrated that the primary inuence of
the Gurney ap was to increase the pressures acting
over the pressure surfaces of both the ap and the
main section with a smaller but signicant pressure reduction on the suction surface of the ap.
Complementary experimental and computational
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D. B. Sims-Williams et al. Gurney aerodynamics

1999 Blackwell Science Ltd Sports Engineering (1999) 2, 221233

test case
+1 deg


test case
+1 deg



studies by Storms & Jang (1994) provided a

generally good validation of their Navier-Stokes
predictions, particularly in terms of lift, but little
was added to our understanding of the ow physics.
Ross et al. (1995) extended the application of
Gurney aps to their attachment to the trailing
edge of the main element of a two-component
aerofoil. The effect was to increase the lift and the
maximum lift to drag ratio. Despite the widespread
use of Gurney aps in motor sport, it is only
recently that the wake ow has been studied in any
1 depth. Jeffrey et al. (1998) used a Laser Doppler
Anemometer (LDA) to examine the ow around
the Gurney. Although their time-averaged data
showed the twin vortex structure suggested by
Liebeck (1978), they also found indications of
alternate vortex shedding from the Gurney which
they conrmed using smoke ow and ash photography. They concluded that it was the combined
effects of base pressure reduction associated with
vortex shedding and the stagnating ow ahead of
the device that generated an increase in circulation
and hence lift.
2 Various studies (e.g. Jeffrey et al. 1998, Lomas
1998, Jones 1999) have mapped out the combined
effects of Gurney height and wing incidence on lift
and drag. Fitting a Gurney can be expected to
increase lift and drag at a given incidence, this
allows lower incidence to be used for a given
lift which, in the case of a rear wing, raises the
leading edge away from the low energy ow behind
the car. Fitting a Gurney also increases the
maximum lift of the aerofoil for situations where
maximum downforce is required irrespective of
drag. Finally, the maximum lift /drag (efciency) of
a wing with a Gurney will generally be lower than
without but this will occur at a signicantly higher
lift. This is illustrated in Fig. 1 which shows lift/
drag plotted against lift for the aerofoil used in the
present investigation tested over a range of incidence angles with and without a 4.7% Gurney. As
indicated by this gure, increases in lift beyond
the plain aerofoil's maximum CL/CD condition are
much better accomplished by using a Gurney (or
increasing Gurney height) than by increasing

No Gurney

4.7% Gurney


Figure 1 CL/CD vs. CL with and without a 4.7% Gurney ap.

The present investigation seeks to provide a

greater insight into the unsteady aspects of the ow
around a typical wing and Gurney conguration,
focusing in particular on large scale unsteady
structures (i.e. with scales similar to that of the
Gurney) rather than on small scale unsteadiness
generally referred to as turbulence. The Gurney
ap height was 4.7% of the wing chord and the test
condition was at +1 horn-line incidence (i.e. the
incidence of a straight edge resting on top of the
wing). This incidence is near the optimum lift/drag
incidence both with and without the Gurney,
erring on the side of higher lift, as shown in
Fig. 1. From an academic point of view, the impact
of the unsteadiness on the time-averaged ow is
an interesting issue, while from a more practical
viewpoint the frequency and magnitude of any
unsteady forces on the wing is of potential importance in the design of the wing supports. Also,
as greater use is made of Computational Fluid
Dynamics (CFD), the usefulness of including
unsteadiness in simulations is a further issue which
has been raised. Depending on the type of solver
used and the time-scale of the unsteadiness, timeresolved calculations can be expected to increase
simulation times by orders of magnitude.

Experimental arrangement
The wing had a chord of 214 mm and a span of
430 mm. The Gurney height was 10 mm. The

Gurney aerodynamics D. B. Sims-Williams et al.

wing was tested in the closed working section of

one of Durham University's 457 457 mm wind
tunnels at 21 m s)1. This resulted in a chord based
Reynolds number in the region of 3.1 105. End
plates were used on the wing to reduce the
inevitable three-dimensionality which will be present at limited aspect ratio. The reference static and
total pressures (and hence velocity) were measured
with a pitot-static probe upstream of the wing. No
adjustment was made for tunnel blockage because
the aim of this study is ow structure understanding and, although tunnel blockage will affect the
absolute values of the force and pressure coefcients, trends and ow structures will be well
represented. The wing was supported on a Plint
three-component force balance which was used
to obtain steady measurements of lift, drag and
pitching moment. Force measurements were repeatable to within 1% on CL and 3% on CD.
The wing had 34 pressure tappings at mid-span
which were relayed via hypodermic tubing embedded in the wing to a scanivalve. This allows all of
the pressures to be measured successively using the
same pressure transducer so pressure coefcient
errors will be due only to drift of the transducer
and tunnel dynamic pressure during the course of
the run and so will be less than 1%. Wake surveys
were performed using a 5-hole probe. This type of
probe is used to determine ow velocity and
direction as well as total and static pressure from
the pressures at the ve holes in the probe head.
The probe was of the forward facing pyramid type
(as classied by Dominy & Hodson 1993), and was
constructed from 21-gauge hypodermic tubing,
resulting in a probe head diameter of 2.4 mm. By
optimising the shape of the head it was possible to
calibrate the probe over an incidence range of 50
pitch and 30 yaw. A computer controlled, twoaxis traverse gear was used for probe positioning in
the wind-tunnel. In the case of the 5-hole probe, a
set of Sensor-Technics 108LP01D pressure transducers were used to record simultaneously the
pressures at the ve tubes and the reference pressures at the pitot-static probe. Errors here may
be caused by drift in the relative sensitivity of the
ve transducers since their last calibration and by

imperfections in the probe calibration. In theory,

these errors could be as large as 23% of the
dynamic head but where the errors could be
determined directly they were always below 1%.
Surface pressure tappings and pneumatic probes
(e.g. 5-hole probes) are generally applicable only
for steady measurements. This is because the
length of tubing between the point of measurement
(the probe head or the wing surface) and the
pressure transducer distorts pressure uctuations
due to resonance in the tubes and due to viscous
damping. In the present work this distortion is
overcome by measuring the distortion and correcting for it using a technique based on that described
by Irwin et al. (1979). An audio loudspeaker is used
to generate a uctuating pressure (a swept sine
wave from 5 to 1000 Hz was used here) within a
small closed chamber. For the pressure tappings in
the wing surface this chamber was sealed to the
surface of the wing around a pressure tapping while
for the 5-hole probe the probe head was sealed
into the chamber. A reference pressure transducer
measures the time-varying pressure inside the
chamber (i.e. at the `point of measurement') while
the distorted pressure at the other end of the tube/
probe is measured using another pressure transducer as will be done in the eventual wind-tunnel
experiment. Fourier transforms are computed for
the recorded pressure uctuations at the reference
and test pressure transducers and their ratio provides a complex transfer function. The magnitude
of this transfer function corresponds to the tubing
attenuation and its phase corresponds to the phase
shift caused by the nite time taken for pressure
waves to travel the length of the tubing. When
measurements are made in the wind tunnel the
tubing distortion is removed by computing a
Fourier transform of the pressure uctuation
reaching the transducer, dividing this by the known
transfer function for the tubing and then performing an inverse Fourier transform in order to infer
the pressure uctuation at the probe head or the
wing surface. More details of this technique can be
found in Sims-Williams & Dominy (1998a) and
some validation work has been published in SimsWilliams & Dominy (1998b). A similar technique
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D. B. Sims-Williams et al. Gurney aerodynamics

applied to a 4-hole probe is detailed in Hooper &

Musgrove (1997).
Unsteady data was generally recorded at 3000 Hz
per channel, with 10 sets of 2048 points in time
being recorded for each channel for each location.
A set of 1000 Hz, 4th order, low pass lters were
used to provide antialiasing. During unsteady measurements, a single-element hot-wire probe (Dantec
55P01) was used with a Dantec 55M01 constant
temperature anemometer to provide a phase reference in the wake, as will be described later.

Figure 2 Time-averaged total pressure coefcient Cp o with no

Gurney ap present.

Results and discussion

Time-averaged wakes
Figure 2 shows the value of time-averaged total
pressure coefcient (Cp o ) in the wake of the wing
without a Gurney, while Fig. 3 shows the same
quantity with the 4.7% Gurney. Total pressure
coefcient provides an index to loss in steady ows,
a value of unity indicating no loss. The trailing
edge and Gurney ap have been drawn in for
clarity, no measurements were made in the white
region surrounding the trailing edge and it should
be noted that even outside this area, in the region
of reversed ow behind the Gurney, the probe is
unable to make meaningful measurements. The
most obvious difference between the two plots is
the width of the wake, this being, unsurprisingly,
much larger with the Gurney. The angle of the
wake is also worth noting, the wing with Gurney
provides higher turning corresponding to the
higher lift (recall that the wing is at the same
incidence in both cases). The bending of the wake
back towards axial will be partly a function of the
proximity of the upper tunnel wall (at approximately y/C 1.0) but this curvature would still be
present in an unbounded domain. Perhaps less
obvious but of very signicant importance is the
much greater rate of wake closure with the Gurney
than without. This is apparent through the larger
angles between the Cp o contours with the Gurney
and the correspondingly higher contour and
streamline curvature. A higher rate of wake closure

1999 Blackwell Science Ltd Sports Engineering (1999) 2, 221233

Figure 3 Time-averaged total pressure coefcient Cp o with a

4.7% Gurney ap present.

is synonymous with greater turning of the uid and

higher velocities near the rear of the body, both of
which act to reduce the base pressure (the pressure
on the rear of bluff bodies). A nal note on Fig. 2 is
the concentration of low total pressure towards the
lower surface of the wing, indicating the effect of
the adverse pressure gradient on the suction surface
boundary layer.
Figure 4 shows the vorticity (dened in equation 1) distribution in the wake. Vorticity been
non-dimensionalised based on the wing chord and
free-stream velocity. Lighter shades of grey indicate counter-clockwise (positive) vorticity. Note
that the sharp outboard edge of the Gurney
produces more intense vorticity (i.e. a thinner shear
layer) than the shear layer resulting from the thick
boundary layer on the wing suction surface.

ov ou

ox oy


Gurney aerodynamics D. B. Sims-Williams et al.

Figure 4 Time-averaged vorticity with a 4.7% Gurney ap


Wake unsteadiness
A single hot-wire probe was traversed across the
wake behind the wing with and without the Gurney
at axial positions corresponding to 0.2 chord lengths
and 3.3 times the base dimension (the sum of the
Gurney height and the trailing edge thickness)
downstream of the trailing edge (for the wing with
the Gurney these two positions are coincident). In
all cases, levels of unsteadiness were highest at the
edges of the wake with a calmer region at the wake
centre. Figure 5 compares the level of u0hw /U across
the wake of the aerofoil with and without the
Gurney. We would expect any unsteadiness generated by the trailing edge of the aerofoil to be of
much smaller scale than that generated by the

Gurney ap. Smaller scale unsteadiness will have a

higher frequency and will dissipate in a shorter
length, therefore, in order to provide an unbiased
comparison of unsteadiness, a 1000 Hz low-pass
lter was used with the Gurney while a 5000 Hz
lter was used without it. Also, the axial position of
the traverses in Fig. 5 is 3.3 base heights behind the
trailing edge, so the traverse with the Gurney is
much further downstream of the aerofoil than
without it (40 mm compared with 7 mm). Nevertheless, levels of unsteadiness with the Gurney are
still higher than without it. More striking than the
difference in levels of unsteadiness is the difference
in the power spectra with and without the Gurney.
With the Gurney a sharp spectral peak was present
at 320 Hz, corresponding to a Strouhal number
(dened in equation 2) based on base dimension of
0.18. The logical explanation for periodic unsteadiness at this Strouhal number is alternate vortex
shedding similar to that observed for circular
cylinders and other two dimensional bluff bodies.
Strouhal numbers for vortex shedding from at
plates at this Reynolds number are in the region of
0.14 while Jeffrey et al. (1998) measured Strouhal
numbers between 0.08 and 0.15 for various Gurney
heights and wing incidences. Without the Gurney,
no spectral spikes could be identied.


Reconstruction of unsteady wake

Figure 5 Distribution of unsteadiness u0hw /U three base

dimensions downstream of trailing edge.


A hot-wire, pneumatic probe or LDA can provide

information at only one point in space at a time.
If the ow is assumed to be steady or if timeaveraging is performed at each point then it is
possible to build a picture of the time-averaged
ow. Alternatively, it is possible to analyse the time
histories at each point in order to identify characteristics of the unsteady ow (e.g. Strouhal number). Using a stationary reference probe along with
a traversing probe makes it possible to perform
cross-spectral analyses that aid our understanding
of the structure of the unsteady ow (e.g. Goh
1994, Sims-Williams & Dominy 1998a, b) but the
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D. B. Sims-Williams et al. Gurney aerodynamics

observations are indirect and require interpretation. Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV ) is the best
known quantitative technique that actually provides
a snap-shot of the instantaneous velocity eld,
however it cannot provide information on total
or static pressure. For this reason, a technique has
been developed at Durham for the analysis of
periodic unsteady pressure and velocity elds.
The technique uses a stationary reference probe
to provide a phase reference for time-accurate
measurements taken by another probe which is
mounted on a traverse gear and located successively at a range of positions in the wake. If the
unsteadiness of the ow were perfectly periodic
then it would be possible to use the signal from the
reference probe to trigger sampling at a traversing
probe. Perry & Watmuff (1981) used this approach in conjunction with a `ying hot-wire'. They
achieved some success but frequency and amplitude
modulations caused sufcient difculties that they
ultimately resorted to oscillating the body in order
to impose perfect periodicity (Watmuff et al. 1983).
A more involved technique has therefore been used
here which is applied at the postprocessing stage
when entire time histories can be used to determine
phase more accurately. Although the main element
of the technique is a frequency domain convolution
which synchronises time-histories at the traversing
probe, it also involves frequency domain ensemble
averaging, digital ltering and frequency shifting
operations which are crucial in preventing background noise and modulation of frequency and
amplitude from obscuring the periodic structure of
interest. Details of the technique are given in SimsWilliams & Dominy (1999). For our purposes, it
is sufcient to say that the output of the technique
is a set of synchronised, idealised, time-histories
at all of the measurement positions and this data
is then rearranged into a set of instantaneous snapshots of the unsteady ow.
Figure 6 shows a sequence of plots of total
pressure in the wake of the wing with the Gurney
Figure 6 Unsteady total pressure coefcient Cp o with a 4.7%

Gurney ap present.

1999 Blackwell Science Ltd Sports Engineering (1999) 2, 221233


Gurney aerodynamics D. B. Sims-Williams et al.

spanning one shedding period, the time interval

between frames in the sequence is 0.7 ms. Figure 7
shows a similar sequence of plots of vorticity. The
difference between the time-averaged vorticity plot
of Fig. 4 and the instantaneous plots of Fig. 7
is striking. The benign appearance of the time3 averaged vorticity eld belies the high levels of
positive and negative vorticity in the instantaneous
far wakes. To some extent the mechanism postulated by Gerrard (1966) and popularised by many
others since can be seen here. He described vorticity
on one side of the wake drawing uid carrying
opposite signed vorticity across from the far side of
the wake. The approach of this opposite signed
vorticity serves to cut off the ow vorticity on the
rst side at which point the vortex is said to have
been shed. The sequence of total pressure elds in
Fig. 6 provides some surprises for aerodynamicists
who have been weaned on plots of time-averaged
total pressure. As mentioned earlier, total pressure
coefcient in a time-averaged ow cannot exceed
unity, however Fig. 6 shows light coloured regions
just outside the wake where the instantaneous total
pressure coefcient reaches values as high as 1.35.
Bernoulli's equation for inviscid (loss-free) ows,
when derived assuming steady ow, tells us that
total pressure is constant along a streamline (see
equation 3). However, if we remove the assumption
of steady ow in our derivation (as in SimsWilliams & Dominy 1998b) we nd an extra term
(see equation 4) which can produce total pressure
uctuations due to purely inviscid effects. He (1996)
discusses the uncoupling of entropy and total
pressure in unsteady ows and comes to a similar
conclusion: that it is possible to obtain variations in
total pressure with constant entropy (i.e. isentropic
ow). The extra term in equation 4 is assumed to
be the source of the transient high total pressure
regions seen here and in other instantaneous
experimental and computational ow elds.

DPo D Ps
Figure 7 Unsteady vorticity with a 4.7% Gurney ap present.


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D. B. Sims-Williams et al. Gurney aerodynamics

os 0
D Ps

Unsteady surface pressures

While unsteady ow structures and their impact
on time-averaged parameters may be of scientic
interest and of some practical importance with a
view to improving the accuracy of CFD simulations, the possible existence of unsteady forces is
generally of greater practical concern. For circular
cylinders at similar Reynolds numbers to that of the
present investigation, uctuating surface pressures
between Cp0 0.1 and Cp0 0.4 are typical, resulting in uctuating lift coefcients in the region of
CL0 0.15 (see Basu 1986). The tubing transfer
function correction method described earlier was
applied to the static tappings in the racing car wing
of the present work. It is generally easiest to ensure
that all the tappings in the body are identical so that
one tapping can be specially mounted for the
transfer function measurement rig. The tappings in
the wing used here had been installed with the
intention of measuring only steady pressures so the
precise geometry of the tubing within the blade
varied from tap to tap and the transfer function
measurement had to be performed with the tappings in situ. This was accomplished by sealing the
pressure uctuation chamber to the surface of the
wing surrounding one tapping at a time. Based on
tests of several tappings it was found that the
variation in transfer function between tappings was
always within about 5%, and so the same transfer
function was assumed for all tappings. The uctuating pressures were recorded sequentially at each
tap using a scanivalve and the reference hot-wire in
the wake was logged simultaneously to provide a
phase reference. Cross-spectral analysis between
the hot-wire and the surface pressures indicated
that the uctuating surface pressures were highly
correlated with the vortices being shed in the wake.
The pressure uctuations along each surface were
in phase, with a phase shift of approximately 150
degrees between the two surfaces. This phase
distribution provides close to the maximum uctuating lift force for a given level of pressure
1999 Blackwell Science Ltd Sports Engineering (1999) 2, 221233

uctuation. The pressure uctuations at the shedding frequency were, however, only of the order of
2% of the dynamic head. The unsteady reconstruction method used for the wake traverses was
used to synchronise the surface pressure uctuations and the instantaneous pressure distributions
were then integrated in order to determine approximate instantaneous lift and pitching moments.
As could be expected from the low levels of
uctuating pressure, the uctuating forces were
also small. The uctuating lift coefcient was
CL0 0.02 on an average value of CL 1.88 while
the uctuating quarter chord pitching moment,
, was less than 0.01 on an average value of
CM 0.37. The very low levels of uctuating
pressure on the wing surface are probably a
function of two things. Firstly, the vortex shedding
mechanism is largely a wake instability which has
only a secondary inuence on the ow upstream.
This is supported by the approximately constant
phase along the surfaces of the wing, indicating that
the unsteadiness is propagating upstream as a
pressure wave at the speed of sound and does not
involve the local ow (in the wake the streamwise
phase shift corresponds to a propagation velocity of
about 0.85 times the free-stream velocity). The
theory that the instability occurs in the wake is
further supported by experiments with short splitter plates (1D) used on the wake centreline behind
bluff bodies to inhibit vortex shedding, much
greater effects on the shedding are achieved by
placing the splitter some distance behind the bluff
body (Roshko 1954). Unpublished CFD simulations performed by the authors in which vortex
shedding was obtained in the absence of a body by
specifying an inlet vorticity distribution similar to
the time-averaged vorticity distribution just downstream of a two-dimensional bluff body also demonstrate the shedding to be a wake instability. The
second justication for the low uctuating surface
pressures are the xed separation points at the tip
of the Gurney and at the wing trailing edge
(provided that the ow on the suction surface is
attached). These could serve to partition the wake
ow from the ow around the wing itself. This last
theory is weakened, however, by the surprising fact

Gurney aerodynamics D. B. Sims-Williams et al.

that the levels of unsteadiness are slightly higher on

the pressure surface, where the separation point
should be better dened.

Computational uid dynamic (CFD) simulations

Preliminary steady ow calculations were carried
out using a Navier-Stokes ow solver. The computer code used, NEWT, was developed by Dawes
(1991) and a detailed description of it may be
found in this reference. Briey, NEWT solves the
three-dimensional Navier-Stokes equations on an
unstructured, tetrahedral mesh, and incorporates a
standard k-e model for turbulence closure. The
unstructured mesh facilitates modelling of the
difcult trailing edge/Gurney ap geometry. The
tetrahedral mesh will inevitably be three-dimensional although inviscid end-walls were used in
order to produce an effectively two-dimensional
simulation and the mesh is only three nodes thick
in the spanwise direction in order to minimize
computational cost. Since NEWT is a time-marching code that was initially developed primarily
for compressible ow applications, the calculations
were performed at an elevated Mach number
(M 0.3) compared with the experiments. However, it was anticipated that this would not significantly affect the results.
Inviscid steady-ow calculations were carried out
for the wing with and without Gurney at the +1
incidence condition used throughout this paper
and a viscous calculation was also performed with
the Gurney. The use of a steady CFD simulation
eliminates any impact of large-scale unsteadiness
on time-averaged parameters such as the base
pressure. The CFD predictions were performed
`blind', so that the researcher performing the
simulations did not have prior knowledge of the
experimental pressure distributions. The calculated
static pressure eld (viscous case) with the Gurney
is shown in Fig. 8 and clearly indicates the increased pressure in the stagnation region upstream
of the Gurney ap. A similar pressure eld was
predicted for the inviscid case. Predicted surface
pressure distributions are compared with experimental results in Fig. 9. The agreement is very

Figure 8 Computed static pressure eld (viscous); light areas

indicate high pressure.

Figure 9 Computational and experimental surface pressures on

the aerofoil.

good, indicating that the lift-enhancing effect of

the Gurney ap may be adequately predicted by a
steady, inviscid calculation (which would require
only a few minutes CPU time for a two-dimensional case). A localised low pressure occurs at
the sharp corner between the suction surface and
trailing edge for the inviscid solution without
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D. B. Sims-Williams et al. Gurney aerodynamics

Gurney as the ow attempts to round the sharp

corner without separation. In the case of the
solutions with the Gurney ap, however, the suction surface pressure is continuous with the base
pressure. The similarity between the viscous and
inviscid predictions with the Gurney ap is perhaps
not surprising since the modications to the pressure distribution brought about by the stagnation
upstream of the ap and the associated increase in
circulation on the aerofoil are both inviscid effects.
Viscosity would play a much greater role if the
aerofoil approached a stall condition and an inviscid
calculation will obviously not quantify the drag due
to skin friction.

Effect of unsteadiness on base pressure

The most obvious mechanism by which a Gurney
ap increases lift is by causing stagnation at the
rear of the pressure surface and hence increasing
the pressure on this surface of the aerofoil. This
increase in pressure extends all the way to the
leading edge where it changes the angle of the
incident ow onto the wing, resulting in lower
pressures on the suction surface. Jeffrey et al.
(1998) suggest an additional mechanism, that the
vortex shedding lowers the base pressure and
this in turn lowers the suction surface pressure.
Unsteadiness in the wake will increase mixing
between the wake and the surrounding, higher
energy, uid. This means that the wake will close
more rapidly and, as discussed earlier, faster wake
closer is synonymous with reduced base pressure
because it implies greater streamline curvature and
higher velocities in the area behind the base.
Gurney base pressure measurements from Jeffrey
et al. (1998) and the CFD work performed here
indicate that the base pressure is continuous with
the suction surface pressure at the trailing edge, so
a reduction in base pressure can be expected to be
synonymous with a reduction in the suction surface
pressure. Figure 10 summarises the various links
between different ow characteristics. The connection between base pressure and vortex shedding
has proved a popular topic for uid dynamists
through the years. Various researchers (e.g. Roshko
1999 Blackwell Science Ltd Sports Engineering (1999) 2, 221233

Figure 10 Links between ow parameters.

1954 and Grifn 1981) have linked vortex shedding

and base pressure with the aim of determining the
drag of any two-dimensional bluff body from its
shedding frequency. Among Roshko's test cases are
several examples of bluff bodies with centreline
splitter plates behind the body in order to inhibit
vortex shedding. He found that a small (1.03D)
splitter plate in the wake of a normal at plate
increased the base pressure from Cp )0.84 to
Cp )0.54. As part of the present investigation a
similar experiment was performed using a at plate
normal to the ow, however a longer splitter plate
(3.5D) was used downstream in order to eliminate
rather than simply diminish the shedding. Additionally, a splitter plate was used upstream in order
to preclude the possibility of wake oscillations
affecting the incidence onto the normal plate (as for
a Gurney ap on the trailing edge of an aerofoil).
The base pressure was found to be constant over
the rear surface of the plate, as expected, and had a
value of Cp )0.54 with the downstream splitter
and Cp )1.02 without. The downstream splitter
plate was mounted on a force balance in order to
remove any question of the blockage of the splitter

Gurney aerodynamics D. B. Sims-Williams et al.

increasing the base pressure. The drag on the

splitter was approximately zero, to within the
accuracy of the balance, so the maximum reactive
inuence it could have had on the base pressure was
4 DCp 0.02. This test conrms that the unsteady
action of vortex shedding dramatically lowers the
base pressure on a body with xed separation
points and no coupling of the unsteadiness with the
incidence onto the body. We would therefore
expect vortex shedding in the wake of a Gurney ap
to reduce the base pressure and hence increase the
lift on the aerofoil, following the right hand side of
the diagram in Fig. 10 from top to bottom.
However, the ability of a steady CFD simulation
to predict the suction surface pressure distribution
(and presumably therefore the base pressure) argues against any signicant impact of vortex
shedding on base pressure in the case of a wing
and Gurney ap. This argument is strengthened
further by the fact that Gurney base pressures,
although lower than those for aerofoils without
Gurneys, are signicantly higher than those for
other two-dimensional bluff bodies exhibiting vortex shedding. Jeffrey et al. (1998) report Gurney
base pressures between Cp )0.14 and )0.4 for
device heights between 1% and 4%, respectively,
and a base pressure of about Cp )0.3 can be
inferred from the suction surface pressure distribution in the present investigation. Roshko (1954)
and Grifn (1981) report base pressures between
Cp )0.56 and Cp )1.53 for a range of different
two-dimensional bodies exhibiting vortex shedding. Even if vortex shedding does not signicantly
affect the Gurney ap base pressures, some base
pressure reduction can be explained by traversing
counter clockwise around Fig. 10, so that the
pressure surface trailing edge stagnation increases
circulation and effective incidence, lowers the
suction surface pressure and hence the base pres5 sure. Regardless of the mechanism, Jeffrey et al.'s
(1998) measured base pressures, the CFD simulations performed here, and the rapid closure of the
steady-state Gurney wake in Fig. 3 all indicate that
Gurney aps do result in some decrease in base


The wake of a single element racing car wing with
and without a 4.7% Gurney ap has been examined
from time-averaged and unsteady viewpoints.
Alternate vortex shedding has been observed in
detail with a Strouhal number of 0.18. The ow
structure and Strouhal number are similar to those
of other two-dimensional bluff bodies.
Pressure uctuations on the surface of the
aerofoil were observed to be highly correlated
to the vortices being shed in the wake, however
the magnitude of these uctuations was small.
Unsteady lift and pitching moment were determined by integrating reconstructed instantaneous
surface pressures; the uctuating lift coefcient,
CL0 , was 0.02 while the uctuating quarter-chord
, was less than 0.01.
pitching moment, CM
It is usual for vortex shedding to greatly reduce
base pressure. A at plate normal to the ow with
a centreline splitter plate upstream and optionally
downstream has been used to demonstrate this
and vortex shedding reduced the base pressure
from Cp )0.54 to Cp )1.02. Although Gurney
aps do reduce base pressure, their effect is less
strong than that of other two-dimensional bluff
Steady-state inviscid and viscous CFD simulations have been performed for the wing with and
without the Gurney and the aerofoil pressure
distribution was predicted accurately. This implies
that CL can be predicted by a steady, inviscid
calculation. CD will be harder to predict accurately,
however, because of its dependence on skin friction.
The relatively high Gurney base pressures,
relative to other bodies exhibiting vortex shedding,
and the surprising accuracy of steady-state CFD
simulations indicates that vortex shedding does not
signicantly affect Gurney base pressures.

The authors are grateful to Prof. W. N. Dawes of
Cambridge University for the use of his CFD code,

Sports Engineering (1999) 2, 221233 1999 Blackwell Science Ltd

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