Development of Pneumatic Aerodynamic Devices to Improve the Performance, Economics, and Safety of Heavy Vehicles 2000-01-2208
Under contract to the DOE Office of Heavy Vehicle Technologies, the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is developing and evaluating pneumatic (blown) aerodynamic devices to improve the performance, economics, stability and safety of operation of Heavy Vehicles. The objective of this program is to apply the pneumatic aerodynamic aircraft technology previously developed and flight-tested by GTRI personnel to the design of an efficient blown tractor-trailer configuration. Recent experimental results obtained by GTRI using blowing have shown drag reductions of 35% on a streamlined automobile wind-tunnel model. Also measured were lift or download increases of 100-150% and the ability to control aerodynamic moments about all 3 axes without any moving control surfaces. Similar drag reductions yielded by blowing on bluff afterbody trailers in current US trucking fleet operations are anticipated to reduce yearly fuel consumption by more than 1.2 billion gallons, while even further reduction is possible using pneumatic lift to reduce tire rolling resistance. Conversely, increased drag and down force generated instantaneously by blowing can greatly increase braking characteristics and control in wet/icy weather due to effective “weight” increases on the tires. Safety is also enhanced by controlling side loads and moments caused on these Heavy Vehicles by winds, gusts and other vehicles passing. This may also help to eliminate the jack-knifing problem if caused by extreme wind side loads on the trailer. Lastly, reduction of the turbulent wake behind the trailer can reduce splash and spray patterns and rough air being experienced by following vehicles. To be presented by GTRI in this paper will be results developed during the early portion of this effort, including a preliminary systems study, CFD prediction of the blown flowfields, and design of the baseline conventional tractor-trailer model and the pneumatic wind-tunnel model.