The Immersed Boundary CFD Approach for Complex Aerodynamics Flow Predictions 2007-01-0109
Standard CFD methods require a mesh that fits the boundaries of the computational domain. For a complex geometry the generation of such a grid is time-consuming and often requires modifications to the model geometry. This paper evaluates the Immersed Boundary (IB) approach which does not require a boundary-conforming mesh and thus would speed up the process of the grid generation. In the IB approach the CAD surfaces (in Stereo Lithography -STL- format) are used directly and this eliminates the surface meshing phase and also mitigates the process of the CAD cleanup. A volume mesh, consisting of regular, locally refined, hexahedrals is generated in the computational domain, including inside the body. The cells are then classified as fluid, solid and interface cells using a simple ray-tracing scheme. Interface cells, correspond to regions that are partially fluid and are intersected by the boundary surfaces. In those cells, the Navier-Stokes equations are not solved, and the fluxes are computed using geometrical reconstructions. The solid cells are discarded, whereas in the fluid cells no modifications are necessary. The present IB method consists of two main components: 1) TOMMIE which is a fast and robust mesh generation tool which requires minimum user intervention and, 2) a library of User Defined Functions for the FLUENT CFD code to compute the fluxes in the interface cells. This study evaluates the IB approach, starting from simple geometries (flat plate at 90 degrees, backward facing step) to more complex external aerodynamics of full-scale fully-dressed production vehicles. The vehicles considered in this investigation are a sedan (1997 Grand-Prix) and an SUV (2006 Tahoe). IB results for the flat plate and the backward-step are in very good agreement with measurements. Results for the Grand-Prix and Tahoe are compared to experiments (performed at GM wind tunnel) and typical body-fitted calculations performed using Fluent in terms of surface pressures and drag coefficients. The IB simulations predicted the drag coefficient for the Grand-Prix and the Tahoe within 5% of the body-fitted calculations and are closer to the wind-tunnel measurements.