An automatic optimization process for the aerodynamic design of automotive vehicle shapes is presented. The Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) mesh generation and the analysis software packages are coupled for transfer of data and information between the two packages. This communication enables an automated process in which designs are created and analyzed for the aerodynamic drag. New designs are created by morphing the CFD model for the baseline design. The automated process is applied to perform a parametric study on a generic automobile sedan shape. The results show that the process can be used for aerodynamic optimization of any automotive vehicle shape. The turnaround for the automated process is at least an order of magnitude less than the conventional analysis process.

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An automatic optimization process for the aerodynamic design of automotive vehicle shapes is presented. The Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) mesh generation and the analysis software packages are coupled for transfer of data and information between the two packages. This communication enables an automated process in which designs are created and analyzed for the aerodynamic drag. New designs are created by morphing the CFD model for the baseline design. The automated process is applied to perform a parametric study on a generic automobile sedan shape. The results show that the process can be used for aerodynamic optimization of any automotive vehicle shape. The turnaround for the automated process is at least an order of magnitude less than the conventional analysis process.

© All Rights Reserved

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SAE TECHNICAL

PAPER SERIES 2003-01-0993

Process for Automotive Vehicle

Rajneesh Singh

General Motors Corporation

(SP-1786)

Detroit, Michigan

March 3-6, 2003

400 Commonwealth Drive, Warrendale, PA 15096-0001 U.S.A. Tel: (724) 776-4841 Fax: (724) 776-5760 Web: www.sae.org

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without the prior written permission of SAE.

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ISSN 0148-7191

Copyright © 2003 SAE International

Positions and opinions advanced in this paper are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of SAE.

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2003-01-0993

Automotive Vehicle

Rajneesh Singh*

General Motors Corporation

ABSTRACT

An automatic optimization process for the aerodynamic modifying the clay model and re-running the wind tunnel.

design of automotive vehicle shapes is presented. The The modifications in the clay model are made using

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) mesh generation simple sculpting tools. The design changes tend to be

and the analysis software packages are coupled for small and are limited by the need to make quick

transfer of data and information between the two changes to the model mounted in the wind tunnel.

packages. This communication enables an automated

process in which designs are created and analyzed for In the CFD analysis process, wind-tunnel test procedure

the aerodynamic drag. New designs are created by is simulated to numerically compute the aerodynamic

morphing the CFD model for the baseline design. The drag. The CFD analysis process consists of two steps.

automated process is applied to perform a parametric In the first step, a mesh is created for the math model of

study on a generic automobile sedan shape. The results the experimental setup. In the second step, fluid

show that the process can be used for aerodynamic dynamical equations are then solved on the mesh to

optimization of any automotive vehicle shape. The compute the aerodynamic flow and the forces on the

turnaround for the automated process is at least an vehicle. Further designs are evaluated by modifying the

order of magnitude less than the conventional analysis CAD surfaces to create a new design. The process is

process. then repeated by going through the two steps to

compute the aerodynamic drag. In general, the step of

INTRODUCTION creating mesh is the most time consuming step and it

can be an order of magnitude larger than the time

Aerodynamic drag of an automotive vehicle is an required for fluid dynamic simulations. The total time

important performance attribute. It has a direct impact on required to analyze the baseline design and evaluate

the fuel economy of the vehicle and therefore the few alternative designs can be so large that the analysis

aerodynamic design of the vehicle needs significant results may not be of much use to the designers.

attention. The aerodynamic design is an iterative The large turn-around time for the CFD analysis is a

process. It involves interaction between the designer major obstacle in making CFD analysis play a more

who proposes a shape for the vehicle and the proactive role in the aerodynamic design of the vehicle.

aerodynamics engineer who evaluates the shape for the However, a new technological progress has occurred

aerodynamic performance and provides enablers for the recently. A new class of software packages is emerging.

drag minimization to the designer. The designer then These are the mesh morphing packages. Mesh morpher

incorporates these recommendations within the enables a direct modification of the mesh models

constraints of the design theme. The process continues instead of manipulating the CAD surfaces and re-

until the vehicle drag target is achieved or no time is left meshing of the CAD surfaces. Thus a major time

for further modifications. consuming step in the CFD analysis is eliminated. With

There are two approaches to evaluate the vehicle design the use of the morpher, the analyst can modify the

for aerodynamic drag. These are the wind tunnel tests vehicle design just like the engineer does in the wind

and the CFD analyses. In the wind tunnel tests, a clay tunnel with a clay model in a very short time.

model of the vehicle shape is milled and the Some of the capabilities required in a morphing software

aerodynamic drag is measured at controlled conditions for the aerodynamic analysis application are the ability to

in the wind tunnel. The design changes are investigated handle a large model size that can currently range from

by 3 million elements to a 8 million element model and the

software execution using the text commands in a batch-

* Project Engineer, Altair Engineering Inc. processing mode without invoking the graphics interface.

on site at General Motors

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A further reduction in the turn-around time for the CFD regions that may be stretched by the morpher. The

analysis can be achieved by automating the process of design variables are defined for the DOE study. The

selecting the magnitudes for the geometric parameters baseline mesh is read in the visual Meshworks morpher

of the vehicle. A batch process can be setup to to create control blocks for morphing. Each design

automatically change the mesh for a given set of variable is associated to a control block such that a

geometric parameters and compute the drag for the design variable change results in the change in the

resulting design. Optimization software is needed to shape of these control blocks to morph the mesh for the

control this batch process. This software can also be entire model. Meshworks morpher provides a utility to

used to conduct Design of Experiments (DOE) studies generate the control blocks for a selected value of the

by efficiently sampling the design space to reduce the design variables. A lower and upper bound of all the

number of CFD analyses required for a parametric design variables is fixed by inspecting the model in the

study. visual Meshworks itself.

the software used for the simulation. The CFD analysis

software is required to perform the aerodynamic

simulation and compute the drag for a given design. It

also needs to be executed using the text commands for

the automated analysis processes.

mesh morphing, iSIGHT[2] is used for controlling the

design optimization process and the CFD simulations

are performed by Fluent[3] .

for the aerodynamic shape optimization of automotive

vehicles. The process with a very quick turn-around time

for analysis is expected to contribute to the vehicle

design in two ways. It can be used to develop the

enablers for the efficient design. The process can also Figure 1: Flow-chart of the automatic analysis process.

be used to complement the wind tunnel testing. The

design space can be explored to identify the iSIGHT is setup to conduct a DOE study for the selected

aerodynamically critical regions of the vehicle. The wind- design variables at prescribed levels. The algorithm for

tunnel testing engineer can use this information to sampling the design space is also selected. The drag

reduce the number of wind-tunnel tests. The secondary coefficient from the CFD analysis is used as the

objective of the paper is to apply the analysis is to objective function. iSIGHT executes the control block

perform a parametric study on a generic car shape. generator utility to generate the control blocks for the

design variables. The Morpher then modifies the

METHODOLOGY baseline mesh to create a new mesh. This mesh is

passed on to Fluent.

This section describes the methodology of the

automated process. In a top-level view, Meshworks Fluent performs the aerodynamic simulation by

morpher and Fluent are coupled via iSIGHT for an executing a sequence of commands listed in the journal

automatic exchange of information and data. iSIGHT file. The process is setup to run the Fluent on a remote

then guides the design optimization by selecting the high performance-computing machine in a batch

design variable magnitude, executing Morpher to create process mode. The computation for a new design is

the mesh and providing this mesh to Fluent for the CFD started from the converged solution for the previous

computations. The process can be setup to conduct design to reduce the computation time. After the

traditional design optimization or design of experiment convergence is reached, iSIGHT extracts the drag

study. Each aerodynamic simulation requires large coefficient from the output of the CFD simulation. The

computer resources so the DOE study is often a better drag coefficient and the design variables are stored for

alternative to the conventional optimization process. post-processing. The process is repeated for the next

set of design variables until all the designs are analyzed.

Figure 1 shows flow-chart of the process used for DOE Since the CFD computations are performed using the

study. The process starts with creating the CFD model journal file, it is also possible to produce a set of images

for the baseline vehicle. Since morpher only displaces to visualize the flow for each design. These pictures can

the nodes in the mesh as opposed to re-meshing, it is be used to investigate the characteristics of the flow for

necessary to keep mesh element size small in the a design.

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designs and number of levels the total number of

The automated analysis process described in the experiments could be too many to be evaluated with in a

previous section is applied to perform a DOE study on a reasonable amount of time. More advanced algorithms

generic automobile shape. Figure 2 shows two views of like Latin-Hypercubes or the Orthogonal array algorithms

the baseline design. The main objective of this study is can be used to reduce the number of experiments.

to demonstrate the process therefore a simple shape is

considered. The process can be as easily applied for

optimization of vehicle with detailed underhood and

underbody components. Level Level #1 Level #2

Design Variable

RZ

DZ COMPUTATIONAL PARAMETERS

RX

The model for the analysis consisted of the car in a

rectangular tunnel. The inlet of the tunnel was at 2 car

DX lengths in front of the vehicle while the wind tunnel exit

was at a distance of 5 car lengths. The sidewalls and the

ceiling were located at about 5 car widths. The CFD

mesh for the baseline model consisted of 1.3 million

(b) elements. Prism layers were created on all the car

surfaces for an accurate resolution of the boundary

layer. Figure 3 shows the mesh in the symmetry plane of

the model. A fine mesh in the wake region of the vehicle

can be seen in the picture.

Figure 2: Design variables used in the parametric study.

influence on the aerodynamic flow and thus on the

drag[4]. Deck height and length are two critical geometric

parameters defining the shape of the rear end of a car.

Similarly, rear roof edge location has a significant

influence on the wake flow. A parametric study is

performed to modify this region using the 4 design

variables as shown in the figure 2b. These variables are

the displacements magnitudes from the baseline

locations for the deck feature line and the rear roof edge

line in X and Z coordinates directions. Each of these

design variables is studied at two levels.

Figure 3: Section of the mesh through the symmetry plane for the

Table 1 shows the design variables and magnitude of baseline model.

levels used in the present study. The levels for the

design variables have been chosen arbitrarily in this A no-slip boundary condition is used on vehicle

study. A full factorial DOE analysis results in 16 unique surfaces. The symmetry boundary conditions are

designs. In this study all 16 possible design are imposed on the tunnel surfaces. Analysis is performed at

Downloaded from SAE International by Oxford Brookes Univ, Thursday, September 13, 2018

80 kph vehicle speed condition. The second order Similarly, four groups can be formed using unique

discretization schemes are used for improved accuracy. combinations of the RX and RZ magnitudes.

The Realizable k-e turbulence model with non-

equilibrium near wall function is used. Since the mesh

morpher preserves the mesh connectivity therefore

solution for a design is started from the converged

solution for the previous design. The mesh adaptation

has not been attempted in this study. The CFD

computations are performed on 8-processor Silicon

Graphics workstations.

The aerodynamic drag coefficient is computed using the

projected area of the vehicle in x-direction and the wind

tunnel inlet velocity.

matrix of the DOE experiments and the corresponding

aerodynamic drag coefficient are shown. It can be noted

from the table that the base line design (Run # 0) has a

drag coefficient of 0.189. The drag coefficients for other

designs range from 0.157 (Run # 3) to 0.237 (Run # 10).

0 0 0 0 0 0.189

1 -100 -50 -50 -50 0.159

2 -100 50 -50 -50 0.210

3 -100 -50 -50 50 0.157

4 -100 50 -50 50 0.198

5 -100 -50 100 -50 0.158

6 -100 50 100 -50 0.207

7 -100 -50 100 50 0.158

8 -100 50 100 50 0.194

9 200 -50 -50 -50 0.180

10 200 50 -50 -50 0.237

11 200 -50 -50 50 0.177

12 200 50 -50 50 0.226

13 200 -50 100 -50 0.179

14 200 50 100 -50 0.234

15 200 -50 100 50 0.176

16 200 50 100 50 0.220

aerodynamic drag coefficient.

shape and the drag coefficient for various designs. The

16 designs analyzed in the DOE study can be grouped

in four categories based on the magnitudes of length

and height of the vehicle deck. For example, it can be

seen from the Table 2 that Run # 1,3,5 and 7 are for the

Figure 4: Rear part of the vehicle for various designs (run number and

deck length deviation (DX) of –100 mm and deck height the aerodynamic drag are shown below the images).

deviation (DZ) of –50 mm from the baseline design.

Downloaded from SAE International by Oxford Brookes Univ, Thursday, September 13, 2018

more computational resources, it is possible to evaluate

0.26 a large number of designs and conduct an exhaustive

RX= -50, RZ= -50

RX= -50, RZ= 50 DOE study to find the true optimal design. The

RX= 100, RZ= -50 conventional analysis process may require at least an

0.24 RX= 100, RZ= 50 order of magnitude more time to perform the same

study.

0.22

Cd

0.2

0.18

0.16

0.14

DX= -100, DX= 200, DX= -100, DX= 200,

DZ= -50 DZ= -50 DZ= 50 DZ= 50

the 4 groups of deck parameters. X-axis shows the 4

groups for deck parameters. The four curves correspond Figure 6: Pareto plot of total effect on drag coefficient of various

to the 4 sets of rear roof edge parameters. Several parameters.

interesting observations can be made from the figure. It

can be readily seen from the plots that all designs

corresponding to the DZ = -50mm exhibits drag lower

than the baseline design. Similarly, for all designs with

deck higher than the baseline model, the drag coefficient CONCLUSION

is larger than the baseline design.

An automatic analysis process is developed for the

It can also be seen from the plot that the effect of roof aerodynamic design of an automotive vehicle shape.

edge parameters on the drag coefficient is relatively The process couples Meshworks morpher and Fluent in

small than the effect of the deck length parameters. For a generic software shell iSIGHT to automate the grid

example, for DX=-100 mm and DZ=-50 mm, all four generations and the CFD analysis. The process is used

designs for the set lies with in a range of 0.002 (0.157- to perform a parametric study for drag on a generic

0.159). Similarly, the designs corresponding to DX = vehicle shape. It is shown that the turn around time for

200mm and DZ = -50mm shows drag coefficient in a CFD analysis in the process is limited only by the

range of 0.004 (0.176-0.180). computational resources. The automated process

enables, for the first time, a CFD based aerodynamic

Pareto plot can be used to estimate the relative shape optimization in the vehicle development process.

importance of various parameters on the aerodynamic

drag. Figure 6 shows the pareto plot of total effect on the REFERENCES

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developing the process was to reduce the turnaround Incorporated, www.fluent.com .

time for the CFD analysis for aerodynamic drag 4. Hucho, W., ‘’Aerodynamics of Road Vehicles’’,

predictions. In addition to a day of work for setting up the SAE International, 1998.

model, it took less than 2 days of time to create and

evaluate the 16 designs shown in the study. In fact the

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