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2016 7th International Conference on Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Flow and Heat Transfer Analysis of Variable Diameter Circular Pillar Disc Brake
Rotor Using CFD

Chopade Mahesh Valavade A. P.

Department of Mechanical Engineering College of Engineering
MIT College of Engineering Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University
Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, India Pune, India
e-mail: e-mail:

Abstract—In the present work, ventilated disc brake rotors improved heat dissipation capability of a brake rotor can
with variable diameter circular pillar configurations were reduce the amount of thermal storage required by rotor;
analyzed to enhance the heat dissipation and obtain more which will allow for smaller and lighter rotors and can
uniform temperature distribution in the rotor. CFD code used reduce the vehicle weight and help to improve fuel economy.
in this work was validated with experimental results obtained Ventilated disc brake rotors having internal air flow
by conducting experiments on a test rig. Experimental analysis passages are widely used in an attempt to increase the level
was performed on existing taper radial vane (TRV) rotor to of forced convection and to improve the heat dissipation.
calculate the mass flow rate and heat transfer coefficient. Many rotor geometry configurations were analyzed to
Further, variable diameter circular pillar (VDCP) rotor with
improve the heat dissipation capability of the rotor. There are
different configurations namely VDCP1, VDCP2 and VDCP3
several considerations in the design of a ventilated disk brake
were considered for the analysis. A 20° segment of rotor was
considered for the numerical analysis due to its rotational rotor. The rotor allows an air to flow through it but it is
symmetry. CFD results were in good agreement with the equally complicated to achieve the balance between flow of
experimental analysis. The maximum deviation of numerical air and convective heat dissipation.
results were about 15% from the experimental results. It is The attempt of this work is to enhance the heat
found from the analysis that among all the rotor configurations; dissipation from a ventilated disks brake rotor by using
VDCP1 rotor configuration gives better rate of heat dissipation different rotor geometry configurations. The mass flow
and more uniform temperature distribution in the rotor. through the ventilated disc brake rotor and its heat transfer
Hence for modern high speed vehicles VDCP1 rotor coefficient has estimated by CFD computation. A novel
configuration may be more appropriate. design of the rotor geometry configuration has proposed to
improve the heat dissipation capability of a rotor. Most of the
Keywords-ventilated disc brake rotor; CFD; heat dissipation; previous researchers have measured the air flow velocity
flow passage and mass flow rate profile using particle image velocimetry (PIV). In some
cases they have used hot wire anemometry to examine the
I. INTRODUCTION flow field at exit of rotor.
The earlier work by Limpert (1975) was mainly
Automotive brakes are utilized to convert the kinetic
dependent on the experimental approach to determine the
energy of a moving vehicle into thermal energy through the
heat dissipation characteristics of the rotor. Thomas and
friction between stationary brake pads and a rotating surface.
Kwangjin (2000) have suggested the analytical method to
This is commonly done by using a cast iron rotating brake
determine the heat input and cooling characteristics of a
rotor with stationary friction surfaces mounted on a device
brake system with resultant distortion and stress components
called the brake calliper. Rotors may be solid or it may have
within the brake rotor. In his earlier paper (Kwangjin, 1999)
two disks separated by an air flow passage for ventilation. In
has carried out the analysis for computer modelling
high demand braking applications, vented disks are normally
techniques to predict the brake fluid temperature rise and
employed because they utilize a greater surface area to
other brake component temperatures during braking.
dissipate the heat. The brake rotor must be capable to store a
McPhee and Johnson (2008) have employed an analytical
significant amount of thermal energy while bringing a
and experimental approach to understand the convection
vehicle to stop; as braking occurs in a relatively short period
through flow passages of a rotor. The velocity field was
of time. The brake rotor must then dissipate the stored
determined by using PIV and flow patterns were observed
thermal energy quickly to the surrounding fluid in order to be
for presence of recirculation zones on the suction side.
ready for the next application of the braking. This heat is
Reddy, Mallikarjuna and Ganesan (2008) have performed
dissipated by convection from the surfaces of the rotor. If
this heat is not dissipated from brakes it will result in numerical simulation and compared the results with
warping, cracking, hot judder, brake fading, brake fluid experimental data. CFD analysis was performed on different
vaporisation and overheating of seals and other components. types of rotor configurations to investigate the heat transfer
The ventilated disks act like an air pump, circulating air from from passage surfaces and its symmetry. CFD simulations of
centre through the passages to the outside of the rotor. The the flow passages have proven to capture the main features

978-1-4673-8829-0/16/$31.00 ©2016 IEEE 146

of flow field. In their earlier work (Mallikarjuna, Reddy and development as well as flow separation inside the flow
Ganesan, 2006) they have described the effect of vane shape passages. The major criterion considered in this research, is
on the flow field and heat transfer characteristics of a brake to maximize the convective cooling by making better use of
rotor. The shape of a flow passage is an important design available mass flow through the rotor. In this study the main
factor for ventilated rotors. domain of interest is flow passage and rest of the geometrical
Talati and Jalalifar (2009) have contributed for heat parameters of rotor are kept constant. Therefore, an approach
conduction in a disc brake system and extracted the of modelling, analysis and heat dissipation only through the
governing heat equations for rotor and pad in the form of rotor flow passage is undertaken in this research.
transient heat equations. In earlier paper (Talati and Jalalifar,
2008) they have investigated the conduction heat transfer Objectives:
into a high performance passenger car disc brake using finite The objectives are:
element method. The adverse effects of heat conduction on 1. Analysis of different VDCP rotor configurations
brake components are also addressed and recommended for 2. To select the rotor configuration that gives better
utilizing an appropriate DOT rating brake fluid. utilization of mass flow and improved heat dissipation
The paper by Nejat, Aslani, Mirzakhalili and Asl (2011) 3. To obtain more uniform temperature distribution in the
is a study of improving the cooling performance of airfoil rotor
vane disc brake with smaller airfoil vanes positioned together
with the existing airfoil vanes. He has concluded that the III. NUMERICAL ANALYSIS
smaller air foil vanes towards outer diameter yield better In the present analysis, three different VDCP rotor
results. The ventilating capacity has improved by a configurations were considered for investigation. They are
secondary airfoil vane introduced to the primary airfoil vane. analyzed for mass flow rate and heat transfer coefficient at
Wallis, Leonardi, Milton and Joseph (2002) analyzed the different speeds and temperatures.
airflow and heat transfer for different disc brake rotors. A
A. Configurations of Disc Brake Rotors
comparison of the rotors clearly demonstrates the importance
of passage inlet design for ventilated rotors. Figure 1 shows the rotor geometry of a utility vehicle
Munisamy, Shuaib, Yusoff and Thangaraju (2013) have considered for analysis and its overall dimensions.
investigated for heat transfer enhancement in ventilated disc
brake rotor by varying the blade inclination angle. An
improvement in convective heat transfer coefficient was
achieved with blade angle of 450 tilting towards clockwise
The past reporting on the fluid flow and heat dissipation
through a ventilated disc brake rotor; cultivated an idea to
have the modifications in the existing rotor geometry
configurations. Existing rotor geometry configuration was
analyzed for fluid flow and heat dissipation characteristics.
Experimental analysis was performed to gather the data on
fluid flow and heat dissipation through the rotor. CFD
analysis has carried to focus the study on velocity &
temperature distributions, streamline patterns and heat
transfer characteristics of the rotor.
The aim of this work is to analyze the different ventilated
disc brake rotor geometry configurations for heat dissipation
and based on that propose a better rotor configuration for
automotive industry.
In order to enhance the heat dissipation through the
ventilated disc brake rotor, different configurations were
considered for the analysis. Existing TRV rotor was analyzed
experimentally as well as numerically to calculate the
performance and CFD results were validated experimentally.
Pro-E Wildfire 4.0 was used for modelling of rotor
geometry configurations; ICEM CFD was used as pre-
processor and FLUENT as solver. Model used for CFD
analysis is referred from literature survey (Mallikarjuna
2008). CFD analysis is useful technique for study of air flow
through the rotor and its heat dissipation capability. The Figure 1. Disc brake rotor geometry and its overall dimensions in
velocity vectors and streamlines give an idea about flow millimetre.

The conventional type of disc brake rotor is a taper radial The flow is assumed to be steady and incompressible.
vane (TRV) rotor which has shown in Figure 2(a). Variable Atmospheric pressure and temperature are assumed as zero
diameter circular pillar rotor shown in Figure 2(b) has gauge and 300K. Walls of the rotor are assumed at constant
mainly developed to get an advantage of curved flow temperature of 350K, 375K and 400K for a speed of 500 and
passages and bi-directionality i.e. it can be applied on both 700 rpm separately. Buoyancy and radiation effects are
sides of vehicle. In the present study disc brake rotors are neglected in this analysis. The convective heat transfer can
analyzed for 500 and 700 rpm speed, which are be considered in two parts. The first involves convection
approximately 60 and 80 km/hr for a particular utility vehicle. from all external surfaces and second involves convection
Figure 3 shows the 20° sections of different rotor geometry through the flow passages. The latter aspect has concentrated
configurations considered for analysis. here for the analysis.

(a) Section of TRV rotor (b) Section of VDCP1 rotor

(a) TRV rotor

(c) Section of VRCP2 rotor (d) Section of VRCP3 rotor

Figure 3. Different flow passages of rotor geometry configurations.

C. Validation and Grid Independence Study

The numerical approach adopted in this analysis was
applied at first to the existing taper radial vane (TRV) rotor.
(b) VDCP rotor The obtained results were compared with experimental
Figure 2. Different rotor geometry configurations. findings for validation of CFD code used in this work.

B. Analysis of Disc Brake Rotor

The rotational symmetry of a disc brake rotor has enabled
for consideration of their segment rather than complete rotor
for analysis. A 20° segment of the rotor has modelled. The
entire rotor is represented by applying periodic boundaries at
either side of segment. The rotors are considered as rotating
discs in an infinite environment by a rotating frame of
reference and the application of an open boundary condition
to the domain. The atmospheric pressure is specified at the
periphery of the domain. The computational domain is a 20°
segment with outer radius 150 mm and inner radius 75 mm. Figure 4. Variation of heat transfer coefficient with number of elements.

The grid independence study was carried out for these TABLE I. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS
results with grid sizes of 300000, 350000, 382000, 397000, Sr Speed Initial Final Time Mass Heat h
425000 and 450000 elements for TRV rotor. The variation in No (rpm) Disc Disc (sec) flow Loss (W/m2K)
number of elements for TRV rotor shows unchanged results Temp Temp rate (watt)
at approximately 400000 elements as shown in Figure 4. (°C) (°C) (g/s)
1 525 92.4 66.4 300 6.8 407.6 62.50
2 524 85.0 60.8 300 6.8 379.4 65.59
3 530 60.8 50.6 300 6.8 159.9 47.44


Sr. No. Speed Disc Temp Mass flow h
(rpm) (°C) rate (g/s) (W/m2K)
1 525 92.4 5.75 56.96
2 525 85.0 6.49 57.51
3 525 60.8 6.04 54.51
Figure 5. Comparison of mass flow rate.
HTC for 350 K HTC for 375 K HTC for 400 K
(W/m2K) (W/m2K) (W/m2K)
Type of 500 700 500 700 500 700
rotor rpm rpm rpm rpm rpm rpm
VDCP1 62.58 77.34 65.65 78.91 67.96 81.69
VDCP2 48.04 76.55 50.96 77.71 49.71 71.59
VDCP3 45.17 64.38 47.19 68.62 48.85 70.98
Figure 6. Comparison of heat transfer coefficient.

Table I and II gives the experimental and CFD results for

TRV rotor. Figure 5 & 6 show the comparison of mass flow
rate and heat transfer coefficient of TRV rotor for a speed of
525 rpm with experimental results. Meshing the geometry
with more than 400000 elements shows the results close to
each other. The mesh has selected after mesh independency
study for all the configurations.
It was started with Realizable k-epsilon and SST k-
omega models but results obtained by SST k-omega model
were in good agreement with experimental results. Hence
SST k-omega model was used in this study.
Figure 7. Variation of heat transfer coefficient with temperature @ 500
The taper radial vane (TRV) rotor was used for
experimental analysis. The rotor was fabricated from a cast TABLE IV. HEAT FLUX AT DIFFERENT SPEED AND TEMPERATURE
iron with mass of 8.31 kg and specific heat of 566 J/kg K [4]. Heat flux for Heat flux for Heat flux for
A custom test rig (Fig. A, B, C & D of Appendix) was Type of 350K (W/m2) 375K (W/m2) 400K (W/m2)
fabricated to facilitate the rotation of the brake rotor, rotor 500 700 500 700 500 700
simulating the vehicle operation. The rotor was driven by a rpm rpm rpm rpm rpm rpm
variable speed motor. The brake rotor was heated by an VDCP1 137 170 202 243 269 324
electric heater of capacity 1 kW. It was a customized
fabricated heater to accommodate the exact rotor geometry. VDCP2 109 188 163 268 217 316
The heat source was removed and brake rotor was VDCP3 114 164 167 245 224 327
accelerated to a constant speed and readings were taken upon
reaching the desired temperature. The rotor was attached to The thermal failure of disc brake rotor is not only
the motor by a hub assembly. The resulting setup best because of its high temperature but also due to higher
simulated the performance of disc brake rotor. temperature gradients across the rotor surfaces. An attempt is

made here to maintain more uniform temperature distribution Table V gives the mass flow rate at various speeds for
on the rotor surfaces by obtaining more uniform heat different VDCP rotor configurations. Highest mass flow rate
dissipation from the rotor surfaces. of air is found in VDCP3 rotor at all speeds and temperature
conditions i.e. 61% higher than VDCP1 and 4% higher than
VDCP2at 500 rpm speed and 350K temperature. The
difference in mass flow rate of VDCP2 and VDCP3 rotor is
not significant. Among all the rotor configurations, lowest air
movement is found in VDCP1 rotor. The small diameter
pillars of VDCP1 configuration increases the area of flow
passage but reduces the pressure drop across the rotor and
ultimately mass flow through the rotor.
The relative merits of rotor flow passage configurations
cannot be described by mass flow rates alone. It is important
to achieve an improvement in heat transfer coefficient and
uniformity in temperature distribution by more uniform heat
dissipation from the rotor surfaces. In an ideal condition; no
Figure 8. Variation of heat flux with temperature @ 500 rpm. temperature gradient is expected across the rotor.
Table IV shows the similar trend described by different
rotor configurations for heat flux. Highest heat flux is found
TABLE V. COMPARISON OF MASS FLOW RATE (G/S) THROUGH for VDCP1 rotor i.e. 20% higher than VDCP2 and 16%
more than VDCP3.
Mass Flow Rate Mass Flow Rate Mass Flow Rate Figure 7 and 8 shows the trend of heat transfer coefficient
Type of Rotor
(g/s) 300K (g/s) 375K (g/s) 400K and heat flux for different rotor configurations with respect
500 700 500 700 500 700 to temperature.
rpm rpm rpm rpm rpm rpm The isothermal surface temperatures of rotors were
VDCP1 0.51 0.50 0.34 0.32 0.34 0.32 specified as 350K, 375K and 400K for the speed of 500 and
700 rpm separately.
1.26 1.99 1.26 2.033 1.26 1.83
VDCP3 1.32 2.07 1.38 2.22 1.38 2.22

VDCP rotor has an advantage of bi-directionality along

with curved vanes. Pillar diameters are increasing in the
radially outward direction and they are forming the flow
passages. The flow passage having curvature gives similar
results in either direction of rotation.
The pillar diameters of VDCP rotor were modified and
analyzed for heat dissipation characteristics. There are three
pitch circles on the rotor namely inner, middle and outer.
Pillars of different diameters were selected for the pitch
circles. Three different VDCP rotor configurations were
considered for the analysis. VDCP1 having 4mm, 6mm &
8mm be the pillar diameters for inner, middle and outer pitch
circles respectively. Similarly VDCP2 (6mm, 8mm & 10mm) (a) VDCP1
and VDCP3 (8mm 10mm & 12mm) rotor configurations
were defined.
Table III gives the comparison of heat transfer coefficient
for different rotor configurations at different speeds and
temperatures. The highest heat transfer coefficient is found
for VDCP1 rotor configuration at all speeds and temperature
conditions. Heat transfer coefficient increases with increase
in speed for all the rotor configurations. At 500 rpm speed
and 350K temperature; heat transfer coefficient of VDCP1
rotor is about 23% more than VDCP2 and 27% higher than
VDCP3 rotor. The heat transfer coefficient of VDCP1 rotor
is about 12% more compared to VDCP2 and VDCP3 rotor at
700 rpm speed and 400K temperature. Among all the rotor
configurations, lowest heat transfer coefficient is found for
VDCP3 rotor.
(b) VDCP2

(c) VDCP3 (c) VDCP3
Figure 9. Velocity vectors for VDCP rotors @ 500 rpm.
Figure 10. Streamlines for VDCP rotors @ 500rpm.
Figure 9 and 10 shows the velocity vectors and
stremlines at mid plane of the passages of different rotors at
500 rpm and 350K. The highest heat transfer coefficient The flow passage of VDCP1 rotor is wider than VDCP2
obtained for VDCP1 rotor is due to the increased area of and VDCP3 rotor. The increased surface area of VDCP1
flow passage and reduced separation of flow in the rotor. The rotor results in improved heat dissipation and better
next highest heat transfer coefficient is for VDCP2 rotor and temperature distribution in the rotor. It is found that the
lowest heat transfer coefficient is obtained for VDCP3 rotor. velocity distribution is more uniform for the configuration of
Though the mass flow through the VDCP1 rotor is small VDCP1 as compared with VDCP2 and VDCP3.
compared with VDCP3 rotor; but it shows that, the available
mass flow has utilized in the better way for heat dissipation.
The poor heat dissipation characteristic of VDCP2 and VDCP3
rotor is because of formation of recirculation zones and separation
of flow behind the pillars.

(a) VDCP1

(a) VDCP1

(b) VDCP2
(b) VDCP2


Fig. A: Experimental Setup.

(c) VDCP3
Figure 11. Temperature counters for VDCP rotors @ 500rpm.

Figure 11 shows the temperature contours of fluid at mid

plane for all the rotor configurations. The temperature
contours of fluid at the passages of VDCP1 rotor shows good
symmetry compared to other rotor configurations. It may be
concluded that, the heat transfer from the flow passages of
VDCP1 rotor is almost same everywhere, which is not in the
case of VDCP2 and VDCP3 rotor. This will avoid the
thermal failure of disc brake rotor due to large temperature
gradients across the rotor surfaces. This makes VDCP1 to be
preferred over the VDCP2 and VDCP3 rotors.
VDCP1 rotor configuration shows highest heat Fig. B: Experimental Setup
dissipation compared with VDCP2 and VDCP3 rotor; also it
has an advantage of more uniform temperature distribution in
the rotor. Comparison of heat dissipation characteristics for
all the three rotor configurations have clearly demonstrated
the importance of flow passage design for ventilated disc
brake rotor.
In the present analysis, the thermal characteristics of
different variable diameter circular pillar disc brake rotor
configurations are studied numerically and based on that
following conclusions are drawn.
¾ VDCP1 rotor configuration gives better heat
transfer coefficient than VDCP3 rotor by about 27% Fig. C: Experimental Setup.
at lower speeds and 16% at higher speed with
steady temperature of 350K.
¾ VDCP1 rotor configuration gives better heat flux of
about 20% more than VDCP2 and 16% higher than
VDCP3 rotor at 350K temperature and 500 rpm
¾ VDCP1 rotor configuration gives better heat
transfer coefficient at all speeds and at all given
temperature conditions compared to other rotor
¾ VDCP1 rotor configuration gives more uniform
temperature distribution in the rotor flow passages.
¾ Hence, VDCP1 rotor configuration may be more
appropriate for the modern high speed vehicles.
Fig. D: Experimental Setup.

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