Investigation of a Trailer Underbody Fairing for Heavy Vehicle Aerodynamic Drag Reduction 2008-01-2601
The drag reduction capability of a trailer underbody fairing is investigated using steady Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes simulations of a full-scale heavy vehicle traveling at highway speed within a crosswind. The flow field about the vehicle is modeled for two different fairing designs of varying length that yield reductions in the drag coefficient ranging from 0.013 to 0.042. Analysis of the trailer underbody flow field indicates that the fairings decrease the size of a recirculation zone that exists immediately downstream of the tractor drive wheels by providing a surface to which the separated underbody flow can reattach. A comparison of the pressure coefficients across the surface of the fairings demonstrates that the longer fairings produce greater pressure coefficients, hence resulting in a larger reduction in drag than the shorter fairings. One of the fairings is shown to outperform traditional trailer side skirts, which yield a reduction in the drag coefficient of 0.035. The results of this investigation indicate that the fairing may be a viable add-on device for mitigating trailer underbody drag, while providing ground clearances greater than that of trailer side skirts.