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ISBN 978-93-5156-328-0

International Conference of Advance Research and Innovation (ICARI-2014)

Analysis of Drag and Lift Force Acting On the Flat Plate

Ankit Chauhan, Raj kumar Singh
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Delhi Technological University, New Delhi, India
Article Info


Article history:
Received 2 January 2014
Received in revised form
10 January 2014
Accepted 20 January 2014
Available online 1 February 2014

Analysis of the drag and lift forces acting on the surface of a flat plate
was done as flat plate is most fundamental of all the design
configurations. The analysis was done under various conditions of the
fluid flow viz. laminar and turbulent and the plate configuration was
changed from horizontal to gradually inclined positions. When the top
surface of the flat plate is considered, air velocity was found to increase
on moving along the plates length. Different results of drag and lift
forces were obtained, when analyzing the flow on flat plate at different

CFD Modeling,
Drag and Lift Force,
Flat plate

1. Introduction
Aerodynamics is the study of motion of air when
it flows around a solid object. Automotive
aerodynamics is the study of the aerodynamics of
road vehicles. The main concerns of automotive
aerodynamics are reducing drag, reducing wind noise,
minimizing noise emission, and preventing undesired
lift forces and other causes of aerodynamic instability
at high speeds. As the petroleum reserve is decreasing
at a rapid rate and is estimated to be over in about 40
to 50 years, the main concern of all automotive
engineers these days is the efficiency of the vehicle.
Efficiency of the vehicle can be effectively increased
by improving its shape. Even the stability of vehicle
at high speed mainly depends on the shape of the
DRAG FORCE: It is the force that acts in the
opposite direction to the motion of the vehicle or in
the direction of flow of air around the moving vehicle.
It provides resistance to the motion of the vehicle and
more power and hence more fuel is needed to
overcome this force.
Fd is the drag force, which is by definition the force
component in the direction of the flow velocity,
is the mass density of the fluid,
v is the speed of the object relative to the fluid and
A is the reference area
Larger the drag force on the vehicle, larger will be its
Corresponding Author,
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fuel consumption. Drag force can be reduced to some

extent by optimizing the basic shape of the vehicle.
Flat plate was chosen for the analysis of lift and drag
force because flat plate is most fundamental of all the
design considerations. By this analysis, we can
optimize the angle for windshield, bonnet etc. Small
change in angle of the wind shield or bonnet can
effectively increase the vehicles stability at higher
speeds and can decrease its fuel consumption.
We analyzed the drag and lift force acting on the flat
plate at different angles and finally a graph was
plotted showing the variation in drag and lift force
with change in angle of inclination of the flat plate.

2. Computational Fluid Dynamics

Computational fluid dynamics or CFD is the
branch of fluid mechanics, which uses numerical
methods to analyze and solve the problem which
involves fluid flow. Using the CFD (computational
fluid dynamics) modeling, instead of wind tunnel
have many advantages like, it saves our time and
provides the same results at lesser expense. Wind
tunnel needs much space to perform the experiments
but same results can be obtained by using CFD, which
does require only a computer.
All CFD problems are generally based upon the
Navier-Stokes equations. The general form the
equation is

Where v is the flow velocity, is the fluid

density, p is the pressure,
is the stress tensor, and f


ISBN 978-93-5156-328-0

International Conference of Advance Research and Innovation (ICARI-2014)

represents body forces (per unit volume) acting on the
fluid and is the del operator. The left side of the
equation describes acceleration, and may be
composed of time dependent or convective effects
(also the effects of non-inertial coordinates if present).
The right side of the equation is in effect a summation
of body forces and divergence of stress (pressure and
shear stress).

3. Computational Model
The two dimensional model of the plate was
drawn for simplicity and the grid points were
clustered along the wall where the velocity gradients
were large. Firstly, the flow over a flat plate aligned
parallel to free stream flow was modeled. Because of
the symmetry only one half of the geometry of the
plate was generated. The length of the flat plate was
taken as 0.5 m and height of the computational
domain was taken as 0.40 m. To ensure that uniform
free stream flow exist, inlet was located far enough
upstream of the plate. Further grid points were made
clustered near the wall where velocity gradients were
large. The grids used were generated with FLUENTS
grid generation package GAMBIT. Due to simplicity
of the domain and to keep the skewness as low as
possible a structured quad grid with over 900 cells on
which flow variables(velocity, pressure, etc.) were
calculated throughout the computational domain was
generated. After the generation of grid appropriate
boundary conditions to determine the type of the flow
modeled were set. Because of the no slip condition,
the flat plate was assigned the boundary condition of
wall. The leftmost edge of the computational domain
was assigned the velocity inlet while the rightmost
edge was assigned the pressure outlet boundary
condition. The symmetry boundary condition was
specified to the leading edge of the domain to force
the flow field variables to be mirror imaged across a
symmetry plane. Thereafter a mesh was generated as
shown in the figure 2.2. Similarly, the mesh was
generated for flat plate at an angle 20 degree, 40

Fig: 1. Structured mesh of a flat plate

4. Simulation
4.1 Processing
All the processing i.e., the analysis of the fluid
flow in the computational domain was done using the
software FLUENT 6.3. The grid was imported from
GAMBIT and checked for correctness. The fluid was
specified as air along with its properties. Numerical
parameters and solution algorithms were selected and
starting values for all the flow field variables was
specified. Beginning with the initial guesses,
discretized forms of the continuity equation and the
Navier Stokes equation were solved iteratively by
the software at the center of each cell. More than 2000
iterations were carried out to bring about the
convergence of the solution. The convergence is

obtained when the residuals which are a measure of

how much the solution deviates from exact are zero or
very low. After the convergence of the solution the
forces acting on the plate were calculated by
specifying the velocity of the incoming fluid and the
dimensions of the plate. The flow was subsequently
changed to turbulent and corresponding results were

5. Analysis
5.1 Post processing





Fig: 2. Contours of static pressure (pascal)


ISBN 978-93-5156-328-0

International Conference of Advance Research and Innovation (ICARI-2014)

Fig: 3. Contours of velocity magnitude (m/s)
The post processing of the solution obtained was also done using
FLUENT version 6.3. In post processing stage various flow field
variables such as velocity and pressure were plotted and analyzed
Similarly, the processing was done for flat plate inclined at
20degrees and 40 degrees and results are shown as follows.

Fig: 4. Contours of static pressure (pascal)- Flat plate inclined at 20 degree(left) and 40 degree(right)

Fig: 5. Contours of velocity magnitude of flat plate inclined at 20 degree (left) and 40 degree (right)



ISBN 978-93-5156-328-0

International Conference of Advance Research and Innovation (ICARI-2014)

6. Results
Following results were obtained from the FLUENT
1. Flat Plate parallel to flow stream.

4. Plate inclined at 600 to horizontal

Table: 4. Results for plate inclined at 600 to horizontal

Table: 1. Results for plate parallel to flow direction

ar flow



nt of
drag, Cd

ent of
lift, Cl

Plate inclined at 200 to horizontal

Table: 2. Results for plate inclined at 200 to horizontal

r flow

, Fd


t of drag,

ient of
lift, Cl

Plate inclined at 400 to horizontal

Table: 3. Results for plate inclined at 400 to horizontal




of drag, Cd

ent of
lift, Cl

r flow

, Fd

, Fl

of drag, Cd

ent of
lift, Cl

7. Conclusion
After analyzing all the results obtained from
fluent, it was concluded that angle of inclination of
the flat plate have significant effect on the drag force
acting on the flat plate. It was seen that drag force
changes prominently as we increase the angle of
inclination of the flat plate with the horizontal. It was
also observed that static pressure acting on the flat
plate changes its value along its length i.e. it is not
constant for overall length of the flat plate. Pressure is
maximum at the leading edge of the flat plate and
decreases gradually along the length of the flat plate.
An opposite pattern was observed in case of velocity
of air along the flat plate. Velocity has minimum
value at the leading edge of the plate and increases
along the length of the flat plate and reaches its
maximum value at the trailing edge of the flat plate.

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Plate Leading Edge for Experimental Studies of

Laminar and Transitional Boundary Layers
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