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Technical Paper

Development of a Virtual Thermal Manikin to Predict Thermal Sensation in Automobiles

In today's highly competitive marketplace and ever-shrinking vehicle development cycle, automotive HVAC engineers are constantly challenged to develop systems that deliver adequate thermal comfort at lower cost and higher fuel-efficiency. However, in the absence of a reliable predictive tool that is capable of quantifying thermal comfort early in the vehicle development program, OEMs employ expensive and time-consuming human subject test rides to assess HVAC system's performance. In order to address this issue, a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model of a virtual thermal manikin in a passenger cabin is developed in this study. The model is capable of providing thermal sensations, as experienced by humans, under any arbitrary thermal environment. Additionally, the model can provide sensitivity of various critical parameters, such as solar load, A/C discharge outlet air flow-rate and temperature, A/C outlet locations, various HVAC modes etc., to thermal sensation.
Technical Paper

Thermal Comfort Prediction and Validation in a Realistic Vehicle Thermal Environment

The focus of this study is to validate the predictive capability of a recently developed physiology based thermal comfort modeling tool in a realistic thermal environment of a vehicle passenger compartment. Human subject test data for thermal sensation and comfort was obtained in a climatic wind tunnel for a cross-over vehicle in a relatively warm thermal environment including solar load. A CFD/thermal model that simulates the vehicle operating conditions in the tunnel, is used to provide the necessary inputs required by the stand-alone thermal comfort tool. Comparison of the local and the overall thermal sensation and comfort levels between the human subject test and the tool's predictions shows a reasonably good agreement. The next step is to use this modeling technique in designing and developing energy-efficient HVAC systems without compromising thermal comfort of the vehicle occupants.
Journal Article

Micro-Cooling/Heating Strategy for Energy Efficient HVAC System

Energy efficient HVAC system is becoming increasingly important as higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards are required for future vehicle products. The present study is a preliminary attempt at designing energy efficient HVAC system by introducing localized heating/cooling concepts without compromising occupant thermal comfort. In order to achieve this goal of reduced energy consumption while maintaining thermal comfort it is imperative that we use an analytical model capable of predicting thermal comfort with reasonable accuracy in a non-homogenous enclosed thermal environment such as a vehicle's passenger cabin. This study will primarily focus on two aspects: (a) energy efficiency improvements in an HVAC system through micro-cooling/heating strategies and (b) validation of an analytical approach developed in GM that would support the above effort.
Journal Article

Numerical Investigation of Buoyancy-Driven Flow in a Simplified Underhood with Open Enclosure

Numerical results are presented for simulating buoyancy driven flow in a simplified full-scale underhood with open enclosure in automobile. The flow condition is set up in such a way that it mimics the underhood soak condition, when the vehicle is parked in a windbreak with power shut-down after enduring high thermal loads due to performing a sequence of operating conditions, such as highway driving and trailer-grade loads in a hot ambient environment. The experimental underhood geometry, although simplified, consists of the essential components in a typical automobile underhood undergoing the buoyancy-driven flow condition. It includes an open enclosure which has openings to the surrounding environment from the ground and through the top hood gap, an engine block and two exhaust cylinders mounted along the sides of the engine block. The calculated temperature and velocity were compared with the measured data at different locations near and away from the hot exhaust plumes.
Journal Article

Energy Efficient HVAC System with Spot Cooling in an Automobile - Design and CFD Analysis

Spot, or distributed, cooling and heating is an energy efficient way of delivering comfort to an occupant in the car. This paper describes an approach to distributed cooling in the vehicle. A two passenger CFD model of an SUV cabin was developed to obtain the solar and convective thermal loads on the vehicle, characterize the interior thermal environment and accurately evaluate the fluid-thermal environment around the occupants. The present paper focuses on the design and CFD analysis of the energy efficient HVAC system with spot cooling. The CFD model was validated with wind tunnel data for its overall accuracy. A baseline system with conventional HVAC air was first analyzed at mid and high ambient conditions. The airflow and cooling delivered to the driver and the passenger was calculated. Subsequently, spot cooling was analyzed in conjunction with a much lower conventional HVAC airflow.