Dasarathan, D., Farag, A., and Ellis, M., "CFD Comparison with Wind-Tunnel for a Class 8 Tractor-Trailer," SAE Technical Paper 2016-01-8140, 2016, doi:10.4271/2016-01-8140.
Recent regulations on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles have prompted government agencies to standardize procedures assessing the aerodynamic performance of Class 8 tractor-trailers. The coastdown test procedure is the primary reference method employed to assess vehicle drag currently, while other valid alternatives include constant speed testing, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations, and wind tunnel testing.The main purpose of this paper is to compare CFD simulations with a corresponding 1/8th scale wind tunnel test. Additionally, this paper will highlight the impacts of wind tunnel testing on the total drag coefficient performance as compared to full scale open road analysis with and without real world, upstream turbulence wind conditions.All scale model testing and CFD simulations were performed on a class 8 tractor with a standard 53-foot dry-box trailer. The wind tunnel testing was performed in the Auto Research Center (ARC) wind tunnel. The CFD simulations were performed using PowerFLOW, a Lattice Boltzmann based method solver, on a high fidelity geometric model. Scale model CFD results were also compared to full scale CFD simulations performed in an open road configuration at full scale Reynolds number, with and without real world conditions, to highlight differences between each of the evaluation environments.