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Conference paper on truck aerodynamics

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Conference paper on truck aerodynamics

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DOI: 10.2514/6.2007-1087

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45th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit AIAA 2007-1087

8 - 11 January 2007, Reno, Nevada

Kidambi Sreenivas*, D. Stephen Nichols, Daniel G. Hyams, Brent Mitchell, Shane Sawyer**, Lafayette K.

Taylor and David L. Whitfield

UT SimCenter at Chattanooga, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN 37403

Aerodynamic simulations were carried out for the Generic Conventional Model, a 1/8th

scale tractor-trailer model, that was tested in the NASA Ames 7x10 tunnel. The computed

forces and pressure coefficients are compared to experiment for the zero as well as the ten

degree yaw cases. DES versions of the one-equation Menter SAS and the two-equation k-

/k-

hybrid turbulence model are used in the simulations. Significant unsteadiness is

observed in the zero degree case which prevented a symmetry plane option from being used.

Overall forces as well as pressure distributions matched well for the zero degree case. For

Downloaded by Kidambi Sreenivas on March 22, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2007-1087

the ten degree case, the forces were in reasonable agreement while the pressure distributions

indicated a need for tighter grid resolution as well as possibly advanced turbulence models.

I. Introduction

N 1997, fuel consumption among Class 8 trucks was 18 billion gallons1. At typical highway speeds (70 mph),

I65% of the overall output of the engine is used for overcoming aerodynamic drag2. Consequently, a reduction

in aerodynamic drag will result in substantial fuel savings. Given the large number of tractor/trailers on the road in

the United States, this could translate into a significant reduction in domestic fuel consumption as well as a

reduction in emissions that contribute to pollution.

The main contributors to the aerodynamic drag are the gap between tractor and trailer, the vehicle underbody and

the base flow region of the trailer3. Significant flow structures exist in these regions and several experimental

studies have been carried out to characterize them. One of the experimental studies used a 1/8th scale Ground

Transportation System (GTS) model that consisted of simplified tractor trailer geometry with a cab-over-engine

design and no tractor-trailer gap. This geometry was tested both at the Texas A&M University Low Speed Wind

Tunnel4 as well as the NASA Ames 7x10 tunnel5 and extensive data was collected for validation of computational

simulations. Modifications to the GTS geometry to include a tractor trailer gap were incorporated in tests carried

out at USC6 and the influence of the gap on the overall flowfield assessed. Detailed experimental studies were also

carried out on a realistic tractor trailer combination, the Generic Conventional Model (GCM), in the NASA Ames

7x10 as well as the 12 wind tunnel7.

Computational studies aimed at evaluating the capabilities of current flow solvers for the prediction of heavy

vehicle aerodynamics were carried out by a number of researchers8-13. Salari et al. 8 used the data from the GTS

experiments and showed that with an appropriate choice of turbulence model, the overall drag coefficient could be

predicted with reasonable accuracy. However, one of their key findings was that the details of the flow field,

especially in the base flow region, were not being captured accurately. Pointer8 used a commercial CFD flow solver

to study the GCM model in the 7x10 tunnel and the results indicated that the overall drag coefficient could be

predicted with reasonable accuracy. However, no detailed flow field comparisons were presented. Maddox et al.10

used another commercial CFD solver to simulate the flow around GTS model. They employed a detached eddy

simulation (DES) approach and showed that an improvement in the predicted pressure (especially toward the base of

the model) can be achieved. RANS simulations using the one-equation Spalart-Allmaras model and the two-

equation Menter k- model were reported by Roy et al.11. LES simulations of a truncated GTS model were carried

*

Associate Research Professor, Senior Member AIAA

Assistant Research Professor, Member AIAA

Associate Research Professor, Member AIAA

Research Associate

**

Graduate Research Assistant

Research Professor, Senior Member AIAA

Professor and Director, Graduate School of Computational Engineering,, Fellow AIAA

1

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Copyright 2007 by the authors. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc., with permission.

out by Ortega et al.12. Sreenivas et al.13 simulated the flow field around the GTS model using an unstructured flow

solver. They employed the DES version of the two-equation k-/k- turbulence model and showed that a single

vortex structure that was observed experimentally could be reproduced by time-averaging an unsteady RANS

simulation.

The present research effort focuses on Tenasi, a family of structured and unstructured flow solvers that have

been developed at the University of Tennessee SimCenter at Chattanooga. The unstructured flow solver is used to

simulate the flowfield around the GCM model inside the NASA 7x10 tunnel at zero and ten degrees yaw. Given

the high freestream Mach number that is present in the GCM experiments, a single parameter based global

preconditioned formulation termed the variable Mach number formulation is used.

The remainder of the paper is organized as follows: Section II contains a brief overview of the governing

equations. The details of the algorithm implemented in the flow solvers are presented in Section III. Results

including detailed comparisons of the flow fields are presented in Section IV and some conclusions are drawn in

Section V.

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The governing equations for the variable Mach number formulation are the compressible RANS equations. The

incompressible governing equations are derived from the compressible equations by assuming that the flow is iso-

energetic and by introducing artificial compressibility. The final form of the governing equations can be written as

1

t Re

Q dV + F .

n dA = G . n dA (1.1)

where Q = [ , u , v, w, p ] for the variable Mach number case. In Eq.(1.1), F and G are the inviscid and viscous

fluxes respectively and n is the outward pointing unit normal to the control volume . The specifics of the

governing equations, including non-dimensionalizations, are in Sreenivas et al.15 and will not be repeated here.

The baseline flow solver in Tenasi employs a finite volume, implicit scheme with high resolution fluxes based

on Roe averaging and a Newton subiteration procedure for time accuracy. The linear system at each time step is

solved using a Symmetric Gauss-Seidel algorithm. Some of the features of the unstructured solver are highlighted

below. The details of the numerical algorithm are available in Sreenivas et al.15.

A. Residual Computation

The structured flow solver utilizes a cell centered formulation while the unstructured solver is based on a node-

centered formulation. Higher order spatial accuracy is achieved using a linear or quadratic reconstruction of the

dependent variables at the control volume faces and using these reconstructed values to evaluate the fluxes. Viscous

terms are evaluated using a directional derivative based approach. The gradients required for the variable

reconstruction are computed using an unweighted least squares approach while the gradients for the viscous terms

are computed using a weighted least squares approach.

B. Time Evolution

The flow solver employs a discrete Newton relaxation approach to solve the unsteady RANS equations.

Newtons method is used to drive the right-hand-side to zero. The flux Jacobians arising from this linearization can

be evaluated using numerical derivatives or the complex Taylor series method. They can also be replaced by

approximations which result in substantial savings in computational time. The resulting linear system is solved

using a Symmetric Gauss Seidel algorithm (point relaxation). For deforming grids, the Geometric Conservation

Law (GCL) has to be satisfied in order to prevent the occurrence of spurious sources in the solutions. This leads to

an additional contribution to the residual.

C. Turbulence Modeling

The turbulence models are implemented in a loosely coupled manner. The flow solver has the Spalart-Allmaras

model, the Menter SAS model, the k-/k- hybrid model (with and without SST), and the Wilcox Reynolds Stress

model. In addition, DES modes are available for the Spalart-Allmaras, the Menter SAS and the k-/k- hybrid

models19. No wall functions or transition models were used in either solver with integration being performed to the

wall with grids designed to give y+ values less than unity.

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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

D. Parallel Implementation

The parallel solution procedure consists of a scalable solution algorithm implemented to run efficiently on

subdomains distributed across multiple processes and communicating through MPI. The algorithm has multiple

nested kernels viz. time step, Newton iteration, LU/SGS iteration etc., and the subdomain coupling is at the

innermost level, i.e., in the solution of the linear system. A block-Jacobi type updating of the subdomain boundaries

ensures efficient parallelization with a small incremental cost incurred in terms of sub-iterations required to recover

the convergence rate of the sequential algorithm. Details about the parallel algorithm can be found in Hyams14.

IV. Results

The results presented here include the GCM at zero and ten degree yaw. These were two of the test cases chosen

from the available experimental data. The simulations were carried out to include the NASA Ames 7x10 tunnel as

well as the GCM geometry. The reason for this was the experimental pressure coefficient was referenced to a

specific location on the test section wall and including the tunnel was an easy way of comparing computed and

experimental pressure distributions. An initial simulation for the zero yaw case considered here was carried out

using a symmetry plane assumption. However, the flow field around the GCM turned out to be highly unsteady and

had significant vortex shedding, thereby destroying any flow symmetry. Consequently, the symmetry assumption

Downloaded by Kidambi Sreenivas on March 22, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2007-1087

was abandoned and the entire geometry was simulated. For the ten degree yaw case, there is no symmetry and

therefore the entire geometry was simulated. A new grid had to be built for the ten degree case as the tunnel was

present. The grids for both the cases were generated using a combination of Gridgen (for the tetrahedral portion)

and HUGG20 (for inserting the viscous layers). The salient features of the grids used here are described in Table 1.

A three-view of the GCM geometry is shown in Figure 1. The relative locations of the various pressure taps on the

GCM tractor and trailer are shown in Figure 2.

All the cases presented here were run on 200 processors at a Reynolds number of 1.15x106 and a tunnel test section

Mach number of 0.15. The average y+ for all viscous surfaces was less than unity. Furthermore, all physical

dimensions are scaled by the GCM model trailer width (w = 12.75 inches).

Zero degree yaw 20,636,180 40,366,718 25,870,856 680,800

Ten degree yaw 18,937,191 41,828,550 23,253,152 0

Table 1: Grid Characteristics for the zero and ten degree yaw cases for the GCM inside the 7'x10' Tunnel

Figure 1: Three-view Drawing of the GCM Tractor-Trailer Configuration (measurements in cm) [Ref. 5]

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(a) Tractor Locations

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Figure 2: Relative Pressure Tap Locations on the GCM [Ref. 5]

The solution for this case was

obtained using the one equation

Menter-SAS turbulence model that

was operated in the DES mode. An

initial solution was obtained by

running for 5000 time steps using a

fixed CFL of 25.0. After the initial

solution had reached a quasi-steady

state, the solver was switched to an

unsteady mode and the run was

continued for a further 47,500 time

steps. In the unsteady mode, a non-

dimensional time step of 10-3 was

used together with three Newton

subiterations to ensure time accuracy.

Second order accuracy in time and a

quadratic reconstruction in space

were used to ensure higher order

accuracy in time and space. The

Barth limiter was used to ensure that

the solution was well behaved. Figure 3: GCM Surface Geometry Shaded by Pressure Coefficient

Figure 3 shows the surface geometry of the GCM shaded by pressure coefficient. Figure 4 shows the unsteady axial

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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

force history as a function of time step. Initially it appeared as if the axial force was diverging, but upon continuing

the run, the axial force appears to have attained an almost periodic state. Indeed, a time average of the axial force

coefficient over the last 10000 time steps yields an average value of 0.4203 as opposed to an experimental value of

0.4060.

Downloaded by Kidambi Sreenivas on March 22, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2007-1087

The sources of the unsteadiness are illustrated by Figure 5, which shows axial velocity contours on a cutting

plane about half-way up the trailer. The main sources are the gap between the trailer and the tractor (tractor base

region) and the base region of the trailer. Furthermore, the GCM model is mounted on cylindrical posts which,

when placed in a crossflow, will create unsteadiness in the flow field. As can be seen from the figure, there is a

distinct pattern of vortex shedding originating from the tractor-trailer gap and the base flow of the trailer is

asymmetric too. The asymmetry on the shed vortex pattern between the two sides of the trailer as well as the

asymmetry of the base flow clearly indicates that imposing an arbitrary symmetry condition on the flow field is not

quite correct.

In an effort to filter out the effects of the unsteadiness, the solution was time-averaged over 1000 time steps. This

frequency was picked arbitrarily, but it does match the frequency in the axial force history fairly closely. In the next

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set of figures, time-averaged and steady pressure coefficients are compared to experimental data. Figure 6 shows a

comparison of pressure distribution along the centerline of the tractor. The two different views are for the centerline

with the difference being that one is plotted against the vertical coordinate while the other is plotted against the

horizontal coordinate. As can be seen from the figure, the agreement is very good between the experimental data

and computations. The effect of unsteadiness is not very significant along the centerline of the tractor.

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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Figure 7 shows a comparison of pressure distributions for the trailer. Figure 7(a) is a comparison along the

centerline of the trailer. As can be from the figure, the effect of unsteadiness is not significant (especially over the

top of the trailer), although it has an effect on the bottom side of the trailer. This is very likely being caused by the

presence of the cylindrical posts that were used to mount the model to the floor of the wind tunnel. Figure 7(b)

shows a comparison for the side of the trailer at a location about half way up the trailer. Again, the pressure

distribution is not affected substantially by the time averaging. As can be seen from the figure, the comparisons

between the experimental and computed results are pretty good.

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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Comparisons of base pressures for the tractor as well as the trailer are shown in Figure 8. As can be seen, the effect

of unsteadiness is more visible here; however, one has to take account of the scale of the pressure distributions. In

the previous figures, they had a typical range of 1.0 or higher. In this case, the range of the pressure coefficient is

only 0.2, thereby potentially exaggerating some of the visual effect. In spite of this scale effect, the time averaged

values do seem to track the experimental pressure distributions better.

Downloaded by Kidambi Sreenivas on March 22, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2007-1087

(a) Tractor

(b) Trailer

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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

B. Ten Degree Yaw

The solution for this case was obtained using the two-equation k-/k- turbulence model that was operated in the

DES mode. An initial solution was obtained by running for 20,000 time steps using a fixed CFL of 25.0 in a non-

DES mode. Then the DES mode was activated and the solution continued for a further 10,000 time steps at a fixed

CFL of 25.0. The solver was then switched to an unsteady mode and the run was continued for a further 30,000

time steps. In the unsteady mode, a non-dimensional time step of 5x10-4 was used together with three Newton

subiterations to ensure time accuracy. Second order accuracy in time and a quadratic reconstruction in space were

used to ensure higher order accuracy in time and space. The Barth limiter was used to ensure that the solution was

well behaved. A geometric overview of the GCM inside the tunnel is shown in Figure 9. Contours of instantaneous

(at time step 57,500; 27,500 time step unsteady) helicity and vorticity magnitude about half way up the trailer are

shown in Figure 10. As can be seen from the figure, there is a significant level of unsteadiness in the flowfield.

Downloaded by Kidambi Sreenivas on March 22, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2007-1087

Figure 9: Two Views of the GCM Model in the 7'x10' Tunnel at 10 Yaw (Tunnel in Yellow)

Figure 10: Instantaneous Helicity and Vorticity Magnitude Contours at y/w = 0.9137

Unlike the zero degree yaw case, the force history at the end of 30,000 unsteady time steps did not indicate any kind

of periodic behavior. For the results presented here, the solutions were averaged over 1000 and 5000 time steps, an

arbitrary choice. Furthermore, the experiments were run so that yaw sweeps were conducted. This resulted in data

being obtained for +10 as well as -10 yaw. Both of these experimental data are shown in the comparisons. This

serves two purposes: (1) it gives a measure of the error (side-to-side) in the experimental measurements and (2) The

trailer was not instrumented on both the windward and leeward sides to the same extent. Therefore, using data from

the positive and negative angles of yaw fills in the gap between the measurements.

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Figure 11 shows a comparison of pressure distribution along the centerline of the tractor. Both sets of experimental

data are shown along with the time averaged computed solutions. As can be seen from the figure, the agreement is

very good between the experimental data and computations. The effect of the choice in averaging period can be

seen in both the plots. The 5000 time-step averaged solution appears to match the experimental data slightly better

than the 1000 time-step averaged solution. There also appears to be a significant discrepancy between the

experimental data around the x/w = 1.5 or so (close to the base of the tractor). The computations match the +10

yaw results very closely in this area. Overall, the computations seem to lie between the experimental data over the

bulk of the centerline of the tractor.

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A comparison of the trailer centerline pressure distribution is shown in Figure 12. The data is presented in two

different graphs for clarity. The computational results are repeated between the Figure 12(a) and (b), while only the

top of the trailer data is shown in Figure 12(a) and only the bottom of the trailer is shown in Figure 12(b). As can be

seen from Figure 12(a), the trend towards the base of the trailer is not captured correctly by the computed results.

There is also no significant difference between the 1000 and 5000 time-step averaged solutions. It is possible that

the base flow region has a very strong influence on the pressure distribution in the neighborhood of the trailer base

(some evidence of this can be seen in the zero degree yaw case too; Figure 7(a)). The comparison for the bottom of

the trailer fares much better with the trend as well as the magnitude of the pressures being captured reasonably well

(especially the 5000 time-step averaged solution).

Downloaded by Kidambi Sreenivas on March 22, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2007-1087

Figure 12: Comparison of Trailer Centerline Pressure Distribution for 10 Yaw

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The next comparison shown is for a line that is halfway up the side of the trailer (Figure 13). As can be seen from

the figure, the experimental data from the 10 yaw provides a better picture of the overall pressure distribution on

the trailer. The computations are reasonably close to the experimental data over the bulk of the trailer. The 5000

time-step averaged solution has smoothed out a lot of the fluctuations that are visible in the 1000 time-step averaged

solution. The biggest discrepancy between the computed results and experimental data is at the front corner of the

trailer. The experimental data seems to indicate a larger low pressure region (possibly caused by a large-scale

vortex) while the computations indicate a much smaller low pressure region. Again, the 5000 time-step averaged

solution compares much better to the experimental data than the 1000 time-step averaged solution. One of the

reasons for this discrepancy could be that the grid resolution is inadequate in this area. Indeed, the surface grids for

the zero and ten degree yaw cases were the same. In the ten degree case, there is significant flow through the

tractor-trailer gap while that was not the case for the zero degree case and it could be necessary to resolve the flow

features (both in terms of surface and volumetric resolution) in order to capture the flow physics correctly.

Downloaded by Kidambi Sreenivas on March 22, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2007-1087

Figure 13: Comparison of Trailer Pressure Distribution at y/w = 0.9137 for 10 Yaw

In addition to the lack of sufficient grid resolution, it is also possible that a more advanced turbulence model or

perhaps an LES approach could provide a better resolution of flow features. Furthermore, the time-averaging period

was chosen arbitrarily and that could have a potential impact on the comparisons. A comparison of the axial and

side forces is shown in Table 2. The numbers reported for the computed results are time-averaged over the unsteady

part of the run. As can be seen, there is quite a bit of variation between the two sets of experimental data, with the

computation being within 10% of the experiment.

Experiment (+10 yaw) 0.70980 1.19873

Experiment (-10 yaw) 0.73849 -1.22730

Computed 0.80906 1.31911

Table 2: Comparison of Forces for the 10 Yaw Case

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V. Conclusion

Computed forces and pressure coefficient distributions were compared to experimental data for the GCM tractor-

trailer configuration for zero and ten degrees yaw. Good agreement was obtained for the zero degree case while the

ten degree case was in fair agreement with experimental data. The base pressures were predicted reasonably well

for the zero degree case. The ten degree case pointed to the need for grid refinement in specific regions of the

computational domain. It is also possible that the overall agreement for both the test cases could be improved by

employing advanced turbulence models.

Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by the US Department of Energy and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory

through UT-Batelle contract number 4000035270 with Dr. W. Keith Kahl as technical monitor. This support is

gratefully acknowledged. Thanks are also due to Dr. Rose McCallen, Dr. Jules Routbort and the late Dr. Sid

Diamond for their generous guidance and encouragement. This work was also supported by the THEC Center of

Excellence in Applied Computational Science and Engineering with Dr. Harry McDonald as technical monitor.

Their support is greatly appreciated.

Downloaded by Kidambi Sreenivas on March 22, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2007-1087

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