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Comparison of Ground-Plane Pressure Signatures

for the Model and Full-Scale MIRA Reference Car.


S. Woodward
University of Birmingham
K. P. Garry
Cranfield University
G. Kendall
MIRA Limited
G. M. Le Good
G L Aerodynamics Ltd

ABSTRACT
The use of small-scale models for early shape development is common within the
automobile industry despite the potential complexities and simulation problems.
Thus, for aerodynamicists to have confidence in their model programmes, they
require access to thorough correlation data. In this investigation, the ground-plane
pressure signature technique has contributed to a comparison between the MIRA
Full-Scale wind tunnel and the MIRA and Cranfield University model-scale tunnels.
In general, the similarity of the traces shows that the effects of changes in
configuration are consistent between the facilities. The pressure signatures also
provide instructive illustrations which correlate with some force effects.
NOTATION
Cp
x
L

static pressure coefficient


longitudinal position of pressure tapping referenced to the model nose (mm)
length of model (mm)

INTRODUCTION
Traditionally, in the development of new cars, aerodynamicists working for
automobile manufacturers have begun their experimental work using small-scale
models. The use of these models, usually clad in clay, early in the design process
provides a relatively inexpensive means of giving rapid feedback to the Styling
department during the evolution of their themes. It is at this stage that much of the
external shape optimisation for aerodynamic performance, for example minimising
drag, lift and susceptibility to crosswinds, is conducted. Thus, it is important to have

confidence that the effect of shape changes at small-scale will be representative of


full-scale results, or at least that such work can be undertaken within understood
limitations.
While much activity has been conducted to understand the relationship between
aerodynamic performance on the road and in the full-scale wind tunnel (including 19), correlation data between model and full-scale wind tunnels is scarce amongst
published literature (11,12,13).
Previous work, where detailed scale models have been manufactured after vehicle
launch, has shown that correlations between full-scale and model force coefficients
have been vehicle dependent and that a simple correction might not be appropriate
(3). Given the practical limitations which prevent full dynamic similarity between test
facilities, the continuing debate over blockage correction techniques, the differences
in model mounting methods and potential Reynolds number effects; it is perhaps not
surprising that a 1:1 correlation may not exist, or even that any correlation might not
be a simple constant shift in coefficient value.
In this investigation a ground-plane static pressure signature method has been used
in an attempt to gain a better understanding of model to full-scale correlation.
Static pressure measurement is often used as an alternative tool to force
measurement in automobile aerodynamic investigations. Pressures are usually
measured on the surface of the test vehicle or model using strategically placed
tappings which are connected to pressure transducers. The tappings may take the
form of either small holes drilled in the surface or as externally applied lollipops in
which the tapping comprises a small hole drilled in an almost flattened tube. In the
former case the pipe-work is plumbed internally in the model, while in the later the
pressure tubes are fixed to the surface of the model with tape. Typically the lollipop
system is used in full-scale testing where modifications to the vehicle may not be
possible or too time consuming to perform. Examples of pressure measurements
used in investigations are given in (14,15,16).
One limitation of the pressure tapping of models and vehicles is that results are
specific to that vehicle. Where more general investigations are undertaken, it may be
difficult to compare results from a number of vehicles.
In the case of pressure measurement on the underfloor, correlation between model
and full-scale can be difficult because often there is not a complete or accurate floor
representation built into early scale models. Indeed, there is also some debate as to
whether a fully detailed model floor would actually produce results representative of
full-scale due to the combination of Reynolds Number effects and the fact that most
production cars today still have a relatively rough underfloor.
In order to provide a simple pressure measurement technique which could be used
to compare the results of many different vehicles/models and configurations, the
ground-plane pressure signature technique has been used. This technique was used
by Howell (17) to investigate ground simulation effects for trains and by Macklin (18)
to investigate the underbody flow-field of a generic vehicle. The method has also

been used to investigate the effects of geometry changes on the underbody flow of
passenger cars by Pillard (19) and Garry and Le Good (20,21) where it was shown
that even configuration changes to the upperbody geometry can be detected by
changes in the ground plane pressure signature.
TEST MODEL
The test vehicle chosen for this investigation was the MIRA Reference Car. This
well-known, simplified car shape has been used for a number of wind tunnel
correlation programmes and CFD validation studies (22,23). The MIRA Reference
Car has been manufactured in a number of scales with the full-size and 30%
versions being chosen for this work.
The MIRA Reference Car was designed to accommodate three interchangeable
back configurations. In this investigation, however, tests were carried out using only
the fastback and estate-back rear ends in order to provide test cases with distinctly
different rear end flow fields. For the two upper body configurations tests were
conducted with both the standard 10-degree rear diffuser and an add-on section
which provided a continuation of the flat floor to the rear of the car.
TEST FACILITIES
The facilities used in this investigation comprised one full-scale wind tunnel and two
model-scale wind tunnels but of different working section design.
The full-scale facility used was the MIRA Full-Scale wind tunnel (24) which is of the
closed working section, open return design. This tunnel has a working section of
15.24m in length and a cross-sectional area of 34.93m2. In the wind tunnel the test
vehicle sits on four wheel pads which are connected to a 6-component underfloor
balance. The pads are flush with the tunnel floor and can be adjusted to match the
track and wheelbase of the test vehicle. No boundary layer control system is
employed in the standard passenger car test procedure. The displacement thickness
is 17mm on the tunnel floor at the centre of the balance. The normal test wind speed
is 27ms-1. Measured data is corrected for the effects of blockage using the continuity
technique and the drag data is also subject to a horizontal buoyancy correction.
The first of the two scale wind tunnels used in this investigation was the MIRA
Model-Scale wind tunnel. The tunnel was converted from a closed to a 3/4 open jet
working section in 1996/7 (25) and has been further updated with revisions to the
nozzle in 2002. The return is open although contained with the wind tunnel building.
The tunnel can be operated in either a fixed or moving ground plane mode. In the
fixed ground mode, as used in this investigation, the model is mounted directly onto
the six component underfloor balance by placing the wheels on small pins which
protrude through the tunnel floor. The floor system enables the pin positions to be
adjusted to meet the track and wheelbase of the test model. A small clearance
between the wheel and the tunnel floor is maintained by means of a shoulder feature
in the pin design. The jet exit area is 2.06m2 and data is not corrected for blockage.

No boundary layer control system was employed during the investigation. All tests
were conducted using a wind speed of 27ms-1.
The second scale facility used in this investigation was the 8ft(2.4m) x 6ft(1.8m) wind
tunnel at Cranfield University. This facility is of the closed return design and has a
closed working section 5.2m long with a cross-sectional area of 4.27m2. Since no
underfloor balance or model mounting system is available at Cranfield the Reference
Car was suspended using the overhead strut system. All tests were conducted using
a wind speed of 27ms-1 for consistency with the tests in the MIRA facilities.

EXPERIMENTAL TECHNIQUE
The test techniques used in the MIRA Model and Full-Scale Wind Tunnels were
similar, in that the ground plane static pressures were measured using an array of
lollipop tappings temporarily fixed to the tunnel floor and arranged along its central
longitudinal axis. Practical limits on the number of tappings which could be used
prevented the spacing from being equidistant. Instead, based on experience from
previous work, the distribution was chosen in order to attempt to capture the most
significant regions of the flow. The pressures were measured in both tunnels using
an array of Pressure Systems piezoresistive silicon pressure sensors. Each tapping
was connected to a separate sensor. Proprietary data acquisition software was used
to collect the pressure information. In the Full-Scale tunnel the measured pressure
was the average of 50 samples taken in one second. In the model-scale tunnel a
sample time of 30 seconds is used with a scan rate of 20,000 samples per second.
The Cranfield University wind tunnel was included because it had been used
previously (20,21) for similar ground plane pressure measurement investigations and
could be fitted with a specially constructed fixed ground plane which had 140, 1mm
diameter static pressure tappings arranged along its longitudinal centreline at a
spacing of 20mm. The tappings were flush with the surface of the ground plane and
extended both upstream and downstream of the model. The pressures were
measured using four Scanivalve pressure transducers which sampled the pressures
at a rate of 200 per second for 2 seconds. The reference static pressure for the
evaluation of a local pressure coefficient was taken to be the local empty test
section, free-stream static pressure. All measurements were corrected for blockage
using the simple one dimensional continuity method (26).
All the tests were conducted at zero yaw.

RESULTS
Figures 1 to 4 show the ground plane pressure signatures obtained in the MIRA and
Cranfield wind tunnels for the four Reference Car configurations described
previously. In general, all the signatures show the expected characteristic of a
pressure peak ahead of the nose followed by a strong suction under the nose. From
x/L=0.25 rearward, the signature is dependent on both upper body and underfloor
configuration. The effect of the upper body in influencing the ground plane signature

so far forward was previously noted in (20). From the rear axle-line at x/L=0.75
rearwards, the signature shows a pressure recovery trend with peaks and troughs in
the wake decaying with distance away from the rear of the car.
A number of observations can also be made from the signatures with respect to both
the effects of the configurations and the test facilities:
Effect of Rear End Geometry for the Flat Underfloor Comparing the pressure
signatures in Figures 1 and 2 for the two flat floor configurations, it is observed that,
for both full-scale and model tests, the pressure recovery for the Estate-back
configuration takes place further downstream than that of the Fastback configuration.
This is more pronounced in the model scale tests. The rates of pressure recovery
are, however, similar.
Effect of Rear End Geometry for the Underfloor with Diffuser Comparing the
pressure signatures in Figures 3 and 4 for the two rear end geometries with the
shaped underfloor, the most noticeable difference is that the suction peak at
x/L=0.75 is greater for the Estate-back than that of the Fastback configuration. As
with the flat floor cases the pressure recovery for the Estate-back is delayed
compared with the fastback configuration. Again the rates of pressure recovery are
similar.
Effect of Floor Configuration on the Estate-Back Comparing the pressure traces in
Figures 1 and 3 shows that the effect of the diffuser is seen as far forward as
x/L=0.25. At the rear axle-line (i.e. x/L=0.75), the diffuser produces a large suction
peak and then aids earlier pressure recovery in the region x/L=1.0 to x/L=1.4. By
x/L=1.5 the wake effects are similar for both rear end geometries.
Effect of Floor Configuration on the Fastback Comparing the pressure traces in
Figures 2 and 4 shows again that the effect of the diffuser is seen as far forward in
the signature as x/L=0.25. As with the Estate-back, the diffuser produces a large
suction peak followed by a smooth and more rapid pressure recovery downstream of
the vehicle than is the case for the flat floor.
Comparing the Model Wind Tunnel Results In general the two model-scale wind
tunnel facilities show good agreement in the pressure signatures for all four
configurations both in shape and magnitude. The Cranfield wind tunnel shows a
small discrepancy in the magnitude of the peak pressure coefficient ahead of the
nose for all cases and also at the rear axle centre-line for the diffuser configurations.
Comparing Model and Full-Scale Wind Tunnel Results Immediately ahead of the
nose the full-scale and model-scale pressure signatures show good agreement. This
continues through to x/L=0.25 after which the ground plane static pressures in the
model tunnels tend to be more negative than in the full-scale facility, the exception
being the flat floor cases at the rear axle centre-line. Interestingly for all the
configurations, the pressure recovery downstream of the vehicle is delayed in the
model tunnels compared to the full-scale.

Correlation with Force Data Correlation of the ground plane pressure traces with
aerodynamic force data needs to be considered with care because the pressure
signature is not a complete representation of the flow around the car. However, there
are some trends which are consistent with the correlation of force data between the
two MIRA wind tunnels (27). When comparing the Estate-back versus the Fastback,
for example in Figures 1 and 2 (for the flat floor), it is observed that the delay in
pressure recovery between full-scale and model-scale is greater for the Estate-back
configuration than the Fastback. This is consistent with MIRA data in that the
correlation of drag forces for the Fastback is much closer to a 1:1 relationship than
for the Estate case. The lift forces are more difficult to correlate with the single
pressure trace under the vehicle. This is as expected, but the effect of the diffuser in
producing the significant suction peak as shown in the pressure signature does
correlate well with the effect on rear axle lift.

CONCLUSIONS
The original aim of this investigation was to help provide more data to evaluate the
correlation of model and full-scale facilities. The use of the ground plane pressure
technique has shown that for the configurations tested using the standard test
procedures in the given facilities a relatively good correlation exists between model
and full-scale results. Perhaps more importantly, the trends in the changes in
pressure signatures due to the changes in configurations appear to be consistent
from model to full-scale.
Direct comparison with force correlation data needs to be treated with care, but the
comparison of full-scale and model pressure signatures can be instructive in
separating the contribution of the under body flow to overall drag and some lift
effects.
The results presented have contributed to larger programmes of work being
undertaken by MIRA in wind tunnel correlation and by Cranfield University in respect
of pressure distributions around passenger cars.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors would like to thank the staff of the full-scale and model tunnels at MIRA
and Cranfield University for their support and assistance with the wind tunnel test
programmes.
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Blowing for Full-Scale Automotive Testing in a Wind Tunnel. SAE 980367
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Estate Back & Flat Floor

0.6

Static Pressure Coefficient (Cp)

0.4

0.2

0.0
-0.50

-0.25

0.00

0.25

0.50

0.75

1.00

1.25

1.50

1.75

2.00

-0.2

-0.4
MIRA FSWT
-0.6

MIRA MWT 2

Cranfield MWT

-0.8
Static Pressure Tapping Position (x/L)

Figure 1 : Ground-Plane Static Pressure Distribution for Estate Back with Flat Floor
Fastback & Flat Floor

0.6

Static Pressure Coefficient (Cp)

0.4

0.2

0.0
-0.50

-0.25

0.00

0.25

0.50

0.75

1.00

1.25

1.50

1.75

2.00

-0.2

-0.4
MIRA FSWT
-0.6

MIRA MWT 2

Cranfield MWT

-0.8
Static Pressure Tapping Position (x/L)

Figure 2 : Ground-Plane Static Pressure Distribution for Fastback with Flat Floor

Estate Back & Standard Diffuser

0.6

Static Pressure Coefficient (Cp)

0.4

0.2

0.0
-0.50

-0.25

0.00

0.25

0.50

0.75

1.00

1.25

1.50

1.75

2.00

-0.2

-0.4
MIRA FSWT
-0.6

MIRA MWT 2

Cranfield MWT

-0.8
Static Pressure Tapping Position (x/L)

Figure 3 : Ground-Plane Static Pressure Distribution for Estate Back with Diffuser

Fastback & Standard Diffuser

0.6

Static Pressure Coefficient (Cp)

0.4

0.2

0.0
-0.50

-0.25

0.00

0.25

0.50

0.75

1.00

1.25

1.50

1.75

2.00

-0.2

-0.4
MIRA FSWT
-0.6

MIRA MWT 2

Cranfield MWT

-0.8
Static Pressure Tapping Position (x/L)

Figure 4 : Ground-Plane Static Pressure Distribution for Fastback with Diffuser