The aerodynamics of Formula One car cooling ducts.

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Fuller, Amanda Jane 

Formula One teams expend a large amount of effort optimising the aerodynamics of the exterior of the cars. However, there is comparatively little understanding of the mechanisms governing the flow through the sidepod ducts. These contain the heat exchang,ers for cooling the engine and gearbox. The aim of this thesis is to investigate features of the flow through the sidepod ducts, to provide a base of understanding from which further optimisation can be undertaken. When designing the sidepod ducts and the heat exchangers, the aim is to provide the required cooling rate, whilst minimising weight, centre of gravity and incurring the smallest possible aerodynamic penalty. An idealised lD model of the flow through a sidepod is presented and used to assess which geometric features have the largest effect on duct performance. A numerical investigation of the effect of a non-uniform flow distribution through a heat exchanger is also undertaken. Experiments are conducted to quantify the loss of stagnation pressure associated with inclining a radiator within a duct. Inclination loss is divided into incidence lo~s and loss due to the duct shaping immediately downstream of the radiator. An actuator-disc type model of the radiator performance is added to one of the in-house CFD codes. This modified code is used to carry out further investigation into the effects of shaping the downstream duct. A study of the use of metal or graphite foams in a Formula One heat exchanger is performed. It is shown that a foam radiator could only deliver comparable performance to the current louvered fin radiator if it had a much larger volume. It is recommended that no further investigative work is conducted into the use of such foam heat exchangers. The components of this investigation are drawn together to provide some design recommendations for the future optimisation of sidepod ducts. These include the shaping of the inlet duct in order to reduce incidence losses and the shaping of the downstream duct immediately adjacent to the heat exchangers in order to minimise any detrimental flow interactions.


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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge