Heo, H., Ju, J., Kim, D., and Kim, H., "A Computational Study of the Flow Around an Isolated Non-Pneumatic Tire," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars - Mech. Syst. 7(1):405-412, 2014, doi:10.4271/2014-01-9123.
An understanding of the flow around a tire in contact with the ground is important when designing fuel-efficient tires as the aerodynamic drag accounts for about one third of an entire vehicle's rolling loss. Recently, non-pneumatic tires (NPTs) have drawn attention mainly due to their low rolling resistance associated with the use of low viscoelastic materials in their construction. However, an NPT's fuel efficiency should be re-evaluated in terms of aerodynamic drag: discrete flexible spokes in an NPT may cause more aerodynamic drag, resulting in greater rolling resistance. In this study, the aerodynamic flow around a non-pneumatic tire in contact with the ground is investigated for i) stationary and ii) rotating cases using the steady state Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) method. A sensitivity analysis was carried out with a varying mesh density. The flow into cavity by the discrete spoke geometry of the NPT does not significantly affect the overall aerodynamic drag.