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Brake and Engine Cooling Flows: Influences and

Interactions
Dr. R H Barnard and Prof. P R Bullen
ACM Engineering, University of Hertfordshire
Dr. Jun Qiao
Jaguar Cars Ltd.

SYNOPSIS
Aspects of the interaction between engine cooling and brake cooling flows have been
investigated. The practical and theoretical implications of attaching the engine
cooling outlet flow to the underside of the vehicle have been studied, and show
significant advantages both in terms of drag reduction and potential for improved
brake cooling flow. Wind tunnel tests on a nominal scale generic vehicle with
modelled radiator and internal flow were conducted. It was found that the simple
expedient of radiusing the rear edge of the cooling flow outlet aperture was sufficient
to promote attachment of the cooling flow outlet jet, and that this reduced the cooling
flow drag and the front lift. It also lowered the front wheel well pressure, thus
improving the potential brake cooling effectiveness. This finding has important
implications, for the design of the cooling system and underbody geometry, which are
fairly straightforward to implement. The usefulness and limitations of established
theoretical relationships for cooling flow efficiency have been investigated, and
relevant comments are included.
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NOTATION

Af
Ac
AO
CD
CpO
kp
pstag
pstatic

model projected frontal area


Radiator core area
Cooling flow outlet aperture area
drag coefficient
static pressure coefficient at outlet
radiator core pressure loss coefficient
free-stream stagnation pressure
static pressure

p
pO
Vc
VO
V

free-stream static pressure


static pressure at outlet
radiator normalising or "core" velocity
outlet air speed
free-stream air speed (synonymous with car speed on road)
inclination of outlet jet to horizontal
inclination of outlet plane to vertical
air density

BACKGROUND

The provision of adequate brake cooling can be a major problem on high


performance cars. For such vehicles it is normal to provide a supply of cooling air
through a duct connected to an aperture at the front. Since the flow at intake will
have lost little or no energy, the flow rate will be governed by the duct size and loss
characteristics, and the static pressure in the wheel well. An understanding of the
factors affecting this static pressure is therefore vital for the design of the brake
cooling flow system.
The impetus for the work described here came primarily from a desire to study
the factors influencing brake cooling flows. However, the work also provided an
opportunity to look at the effects of promoting attachment of the engine cooling air
outlet flow. From theoretical considerations, described later, it was expected that
such attachment would considerably reduce the drag increment due to cooling. It was
appreciated that with an attached outlet flow, some significant revision of the
commonly accepted expressions for cooling drag would be necessary. Previous work
by Barnard et al [refs. 1, 2 and 3] had validated existing theories only for cases with
separated outlet jets.
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LIMITATIONS OF THEORETICAL EXPRESSIONS FOR DRAG DUE TO


ENGINE COOLING FLOW

Although expressions for cooling drag flow were developed for aeronautical purposes
some time ago, the expressions most commonly used in current automotive practice
are based on a paper published by Soja and Wiedemann [4]. A modified version of
this was presented by Barnard [3 and 5] as
CD (cooling)= 2

Vc Ac Ac Vc
A
1
cos CpO O cos
V Af AO V
Af

(1)

This expression is based on consideration of the momentum changes and pressure


differences across a control volume illustrated in figure 1. This version of the
expression allows for the fact that the outlet aperture is not generally perpendicular to
the outlet jet flow. In practice most of the drag force is attributable to the momentum
change. In vehicle arrangement shown in figure 1, the aperture area is horizontal, so
= 90o, and the pressure term thus has no influence in the drag.

V
Vc

VO
Figure 1 The control volume used for equation 1, illustrated for the case of the
Ahmed shape model, as described in refs. [1 and 2].
The expression has been shown to work well for special cases (Barnard [1, 2 and 3]),
but is based on some assumptions that are not valid in many practical cases. There
are two primary defective assumptions.
1. The first is that drawing air through the inlet to produce a cooling flow does not
influence the external flow of the basic vehicle shape. Clearly, there can be strong
influences both in the intake and outlet regions. This problem has been
addressed by Williams [6 and 7] who has introduced appropriate modifications to
the momentum/pressure equation.
2. The second assumption is that the cooling air leaves the control volume in the
form of a jet emanating from the outlet aperture, as illustrated in figure 1.
The second assumption was valid for the Ahmed model tested in refs. [1 and 2],
since the outlet was very close to the rear of the model. It was also partly true for the
case of the sports car tested by Barnard [3], since the outlet aperture was sharp and
the flow did not tend to attach to the vehicle body. However, if the flow does tend to
attach, it is necessary to use a different control volume, as illustrated in figure 2. The
problem with this model is that the outlet jet velocity and area are no longer easy to
estimate, as they are not simply related to the geometry of the outlet aperture.
Although equation 1 now contains an unknown exit area AO, and an unknown exit
velocity VO (see figure 2), it is still useful in that it shows that with attached flow, the
outlet jet should be nearly axial ( = 0 in equation 1), so the axial momentum change
is at a minimum for a given outlet jet speed (VO). The cooling drag penalty should
thus be small.

Voo

OA
o

Vo

Figure 2. An appropriate control volume for the case of an attached outlet jet.
The outlet area Ao is now not generally equal to the area of the
engine bay outlet aperture.
The experimental result given here indicate that if the control volume outlet velocity is
assumed to be axial in direction and similar in magnitude to the jet speed at the outlet
aperture, then equation 1 will produce a useful first estimate of the cooling drag. The
justification for adopting these assumptions and the attendant limitations are given
later. The tests described here involved a simplified vehicle with a well-rounded and
ideally situated intake aperture, so modifications to the external flow at intake were
probably small, though no attempt has yet been made to validate this experimentally.
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OTHER RELEVANT THEORETICAL EXPRESSIONS

The flow speed through the radiator is controlled primarily by the conditions at the
outlet aperture: namely the outlet pressure coefficient CpO and by the ratio of the
radiator core area to the outlet aperture area Ac /AO. The core speed Vc may be
obtained from
1 C pO
Vc
=
2
V
Ac

+k p
A
O

(2)

This expression is derived in reference [2]. The radiator pressure loss coefficient kp
is the normalised stagnation pressure loss through the core: defined by
ptotal
k p =
2
0.5 Vc

(3)

THEORETICAL FACTORS CONTROLLING THE BRAKE COOLING FLOW

For a ram-driven cooling air flow, the mass flow will be determined by the area and
speed of the jet of cooling air. The maximum theoretical speed that can be obtained
depends on the stagnation pressure at intake pstag and the static pressure
surrounding the outlet jet pstatic. If the intake is placed on the front surface of the
vehicle, the stagnation pressure will be close to that of the free stream. Thus, it will
be seen that the controlling influence will be the static pressure in the vicinity of the
outlet jet near the brake disc, which is in turn defined by the pressure field in the
wheel well. The maximum mass flow rate is given by
 = AV = A 2 (pstag pstatic )
m

(4)

In our preliminary studies, we found that for a conventional front-engined vehicle, the
wheel well pressure is significantly influenced by the engine cooling flow. This is
hardly surprising in view of the close proximity of the cooling flow outlet to the wheel
well. In this investigation, the relationship has been studied in some detail.
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EXPERIMENTAL ARRANGEMENT

Rather than study any particular production vehicle, it was decided that a simplified
generic vehicle model would be constructed in roughly scale. The model is shown
in figures 3 and 4, and takes the form of an MPV which gives an aerodynamically
simple shape.

Figure 3 The scale MPV model shown on the moving belt facility.

Pitot-static tube

static
tappings
pitot
tube

6
7

radiator
core

1&2

adjustable
aperture
slide

Core area
AC = 0.0088 m2
Tunnel speed V =18.5 m/s

optional
rounded
edge
Frontal area Af = 0.1273 m2

Figure 4. Internal arrangement and relevant dimensions of model


The underside was mostly flat, but with a diffuser section starting slightly upstream of
the rear wheels. An engine cooling radiator was modelled using the same system of
wire mesh and honeycomb described in ref. [1]. The cooling air intake was of a
simple rounded rectangular cross-section with smooth entry, and the short intake
duct has zero diffuser angle. The outlet aperture was sharp-edged and rectangular,
with the area being varied by means of a sliding plate. A rounded roughened fairing
could be added to the downstream edge to promote attachment of the outlet jet to the
vehicle underside. The wheel wells were modelled with dimensions typical of a
production vehicle.
The model was suspended over a fixed groundboard and used an internal twocomponent force balance with an external force balance connected to a rear sting to
provide pitching moment information from which the rear-wheel/front-wheel lift
distribution could be determined. It is intended that further measurements will be
made using the moving belt facility, but for present purposes, the fixed ground was
employed, as it provides a simpler and quieter arrangement. The purpose of the work
was to provide comparative rather than absolute data.
In addition to force measurements, several internal pressure tappings were provided,
and seven of these were attached to a bank of transducers. For reasons of
hardware/software compatibility, pressure and force data were measured
consecutively rather than simultaneously.

Static pressures were measured at the following positions:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

on the inside face of the front wheel well close to the axle line,
at a position close to the wheel hub, corresponding to the location of a brake disc,
on the underside just downstream of the cooling air outlet aperture,
on the underside upstream of the cooling air outlet aperture,
near the bottom of the rear face of the vehicle (to determine the base pressure).
in the wall of the inlet duct,
in the centre of the inlet duct facing forward as a pitot tube so as to record the
inlet flow stagnation pressure.
DETERMINATION OF COOLING AIR MASS FLOW RATE

The two latter tapping (6 and 7) allowed estimates of the cooling air mass flow rate to
be made by using equation 4 with pstatic now being the static pressure in the intake
duct. Dividing this mass flow rate by the duct cross-sectional area and the air density,
the mean intake flow speed can also be determined. The radiator core reference
velocity VC can then be determined from the ratio of the intake duct area to the core
area. This ratio was 1.125 for the first set of tests (results shown in Table 1) and 1.0
for the second set (results shown in Table 2). Knowing VC and the free-stream
velocity V (which was measured with a pitot-static tube), the velocity ratio Vc/V
may be calculated.
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THE EFFECT OF ATTACHING THE COOLING FLOW OUTLET JET TO THE


UNDERSIDE

For the first set of experiments, the outlet aperture was set with an area exactly equal
to the core area. The model was run both with the inlet blanked, and with it open.
Two sets of tests were conducted, one with a sharp-edged rectangular outlet (the
baseline configuration), and the other with the radiused downstream edge. For the
second case, it was found that with an unchanged outlet aperture area, there was an
increase in the mass flow rate. The aperture was therefore reduced so as to maintain
the same mass flow rate as for the baseline sharp-edged outlet.
Table 1 shows the results. CD represents the difference in vehicle drag coefficient
between the radiator open and blanked cases, and thus the drag increment due to
the effects of the cooling flow. Theoretical values of Vc/V are given, and also the
theoretical momentum change component of the drag increment due to cooling, for
the cases of an axial outlet jet flow direction ( = 0o) and for a vertical outlet direction
( = 90o). The theoretical values of CD and Vc /V are based on equations 1 and 2.
In calculating the theoretical velocity ratio, the measured pressure coefficient just
upstream of the outlet aperture (from tapping 4) has been used as the value of CpO.
The theoretical drag coefficient increment figures are based on the experimentally
measured values of Vc /V. The experimental values of Vc/V are probably too high,
as no account has been taken of the intake boundary layer. A discharge coefficient of
around 0.98 might be appropriate for the determination of the core velocity. This
would bring the theoretical and experimental values more into line.

Table 1. Wind-tunnel and theoretical data for model with AC/AO = 1


Pressure
tapping
No.

2
1
3
4
5

Intake
blanked

Change in CD between
blanked and open radiator
CD
Theoretical CD based on
= 0o
measured values
= 90 o
of Vc /V
CL (front wheels)
CL (rear wheels)
Cp (wheel disc)
Cp (wheel well)
Cp (underside downstream)
Cp (underside upstream)
Cp (base)
Vc /V (measured)
Vc /V (theory:- equation 2)
Cooling air mass flow rate
(kg/s)

-0.268
-0.198
-0.323
-0.393
-0.217

Sharp
edge
outlet
aperture
AC/AO = 1

Rounded
rear edge
outlet
aperture
AC/AO = 1

0.039

0.032

0.0306
0.0456
+0.0645
-0.0639
-0.279
-0.132
-0.878
-0.134
-0.224
0.330
0.321
0.067

0.0308
0.0462
+0.028
-0.0691
-0.282
-0.142
-0.810
-0.190
-0.225
0.334
0.329
0.067

It will be seen that radiusing the outlet aperture to provide well attached, and thus
axial outlet flow ( =0 in equation 1), reduces the drag increment due to cooling
(CD), and that the increment is now quite close to that predicted by equation 1 for an
axial jet. There is no reason why this should necessarily be the case, because the
speed and area of the cooling air flow as it leaves the control volume will not
generally be the same as that at outlet from the aperture. However, it will be seen
that the underside pressure coefficient just upstream of the outlet aperture -0.190 is
quite similar to the base pressure coefficient in the region where the flow leaves the
control volume -0.225. The control volume outlet and aperture outlet speeds should
thus be similar. The attached outlet flow will of course be subjected to viscous drag,
but this merely replaces a similar drag on the underbody flow. The base pressure
falls slightly when the cooling flow is on, and this will result in a small additional drag
increment of approximately 0.001.
The influence of the outlet aperture radiusing may be seen in the change in the value
of the pressure coefficient just downstream of the aperture. For the sharp-edged
case, there is a strong separation bubble, giving rise to a strongly negative coefficient
value. With a wool-tuft wand, it was easy to detect the presence of this separation
bubble. Partial reattachment was seen to occur, but with a wide unsteady flow. For

the radiused-edge case, a clean attached underside flow was found. The overall lift
coefficient is not changed much by the radiusing, but there is a change in the
front/rear lift distribution. Both the front and rear wheel lift coefficients are lower for
the case of the radiused rear edge, with the greater effect being at the front wheels.
This is consistent with the reduction in the underbody static pressure upstream of the
aperture that occurred with the radiused edge. Also, due to the outlet jet being near
axial, a reduction in the lift is to be expected, since there is no cooling flow vertical
momentum at outlet.
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WHEEL WELL PRESSURES

The influence of the cooling flow on the wheel well pressures may be seen Table 1.
In general, the presence of the cooling flow serves to raise the wheel well pressure,
and hence restrict the potential flow speed for the brake cooling air. However, it will
be seen that attaching the cooling air outlet flow, by means of the radius, improves
the situation. This is fortunate, as it means that with the radiused outlet, one can
have improved brake cooling as well as a reduced cooling drag penalty.
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EFFECT OF CHANGING THE CORE TO OUTLET AREA RATIO AC/AO

The effect of increasing this area ratio from 1 to 2 was investigated both for sharp
and radiused edge cases. From equations equation 1 and 2, it is predicted that this
will reduce the drag due to cooling. It will also however reduce the core flow velocity,
so to compensate, the core area has to be increased to preserve the mass flow rate.
In the case of our model, an attempt was made to achieve this by removing a small
partial banking plate which had been deliberately introduced for the tests with the
smaller area ratio. Removing this increased the core area to 0.0099 m2. The
predicted reduction in drag is small if the outlet jet is vertical, since the same mass
flow rate is involved, so the momentum changes should be unaltered. If the outlet
flow is nearly axial (due to attachment), however, there should be a significant
reduction in drag as the outlet jet momentum is increased, and the horizontal
momentum loss is thus reduced.
Pressure and force data were again collected for both a sharp edged outlet aperture
and for a radiused rear edge aperture. The results are shown in Table 2. For the
radiused outlet case, the measured value of CD again tends towards that predicted
from equation 1 for = 0o, and is usefully lower than for the case where the area
ratio Ac /AO =1. The theoretical values are only an approximate guide, for the reasons
given earlier. In addition, it is difficult to be certain about what value of CPO to use.
For present purposes, the underside pressure just upstream of the outlet aperture
has been used.
The lift coefficient increments show the same trend as in table 1

Table 2. Wind-tunnel and theoretical data for model with AC/AO = 2


Pressure
Port no.

Intake
Sharp edge
blanked outlet
aperture
AC/AO = 2

2
1
3
4
5

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Experimental change in CD
between blanked and open
CD
radiator
Theoretical CD based on
= 0o
measured values
= 90 o
of Vc /V
CL (front wheels)
CL (rear wheels)
Cp (wheel disc)
Cp (wheel well)
Cp (underside downstream)
Cp (underside upstream)
Vc /V (measured)
Vc /V (theory:- equation 2)
Cooling air mass flow rate
(kg/s)

-0.268
-0.198
-0.323
-0.393

rounded rear
edge outlet
aperture
AC/AO = 2

0.0365

0.027

0.0186
0.0468
+.064
-0.052
-0.177
-0.132
-0.956
-0.149
0.301
0.287
0.0675

0.0186
0.0467
+.031
-0.050
-0.192
-0.134
-0.864
-0.209
0.3005
0.294
0.0675

INLET EFFECTS AND OTHER CAVEATS

For these tests, the intake was deliberately designed to produce predominantly
attached flow for both the blanked and open conditions, and is not representative of
the kind of complex intake geometries that result from styling and packaging
constraints on real vehicles. The influence of intake geometry on the drag increment
has not yet been properly investigated by the authors although some tentative
measurements were made that showed that the intake did influence the results. This
is to be expected, since the intake flow can affect the attachment of the external flow
in appropriate cases. The important influence of the intake effects has been studied
by Williams [6 and 7].
Apart from the inlet geometry, the model used was untypical of current real road
vehicles, in that it had a largely smooth flat underside. The attachment produced by
the radiused outlet would therefore be more effective than on a vehicle with a
typically rough and geometrically complex underside. This said, however, a
measurable improvement was obtained in a production saloon car fitted with a
radiused outlet (not reported, for commercial reasons). It is also likely that there will
be increasing attention to smoothing the underside of vehicles in the future, since this
is one area where significant aerodynamic improvements can be made and, most
importantly, made without upsetting the stylists. Full underfloor fairings are now quite

often fitted to high-performance vehicles. Apart from the aerodynamic advantages,


such under-trays help reduce drive-by noise.
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SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

It has been found that the drag due to the cooling flow can be reduced by attaching
the outlet flow to the underside of the vehicle. The simple expedient of radiusing the
rear edge of the outlet aperture was sufficient to make a worthwhile improvement for
the vehicle studied here. This may not work for all underbody geometries.
Further drag reductions can be made by increasing the ratio of core area to outlet
area ratio Ac /AO. This will only be effective if the outlet flow approaches the axial
direction. For a vertical discharge, the cooling drag is constant for a given mass flow
rate, since that mass of air always loses its axial momentum.
The simple theoretical expression of equation 1 is not really valid for an attached
outlet flow, but although it does not allow accurate predictions to be made, it still
indicates the parametric trends.
Attaching the outlet flow for a front-engined vehicle may lower the wheel-well
pressure, and hence improve the potential for brake cooling flow.
For this vehicle, attaching the outlet flow reduced the front lift, as expected. This is a
beneficial effect, as reducing the front end lift can be quite difficult to achieve without
changing the styling.
More work is required in order to investigate the effect of the intake geometry, and
the influences of underbody roughness.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors would like to acknowledge Jack Williams for sharing his information and
thoughts on the subject, and for his helpful criticisms and suggestions.
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REFERENCES

1. Barnard R. H., and Ledakis N., Physical modelling and optimisation of radiator
cooling flow systems, Procs. 2nd MIRA Conference on Vehicle Aerodynamics,
Session 5, October 1998.
2. Barnard R.H., Theoretical and experimental investigation of the aerodynamic drag
due to automotive cooling systems, Procs. of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers,
Journal of Automobile Engineering, Proceedings Part D, vol. 214, no. D8, 2000, pp.
919-927. ISSN 0954-4070.

3. Barnard R.H., Minimising the cooling system drag for a small sports car, Procs. 3rd
MIRA International Vehicle Aerodynamics Conference, (MIRA 2000), 18-19 October
2000, Rugby, U.K.
4. Soja H., and Wiedemann J., The interference between internal and external flow
on road vehicles, Ingenieurs d'Automobile, Sept 1987 pp. 101-105.
5. Barnard R. H., Road Vehicle Aerodynamic Design, MechAero Publishing, 2001,
ISBN 0-9540734-0-1.
6. Williams, Jack, Walt Oler, and Dinakara Karanth, Cooling Inlet Aerodynamic
Performance and System Resistance, SAE report 2002-01-0256, March 2002.
7. Williams, Jack, Aerodynamic drag of engine-cooling airflow with external
interference, Procs. 4th MIRA International Vehicle Aerodynamics Conference, (MIRA
2002), 16-17 October 2002, Gaydon, U.K.