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.