The aid of computers in automobile design has improved performance by allowing for experimentation with unconventional designs and processes that previously seemed impossible. Manufacturers and designers consistently evaluate newer concepts that promote environmental friendliness and efficiency improvement. These concepts wouldn't have been possible without computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The accuracy and cost-effectiveness of the CFD tools overpower the rigorous physical tests, and they are now more of a mainstream gatekeeper to test the engineering design concepts.
The use of CFD is more profound in automobile design because of the diverse physics involved. It can be used to optimize components with the aim of downsizing and reducing the environmental footprint while maintaining or improving operational efficiency. Mechanical components can add weight to the system, affecting the overall performance. However, by analyzing things such as heat transfer and aerodynamics, we can easily evaluate lightweight materials like carbon fiber that offer aerodynamic flexibility and strength against thermal loads.
Currently, the most promising application of CFD is in predicting combustion phenomena. Advanced tools provide engineers with a detailed study of individual chemical species, their generation, destruction, and transportation. This provides a simpler approach to optimizing the chamber design and obtaining the required swirling and mixing characteristics. This not only helps in achieving complete combustion, but it also curbs pollutant emission. Engine assisting components like exhaust gas recirculation, turbo chargers, and manifolds can be optimized to enhance the engine efficiency and reduce emissions.
Apart from interiors, CFD has benefited car manufacturers in achieving aerodynamic stability by reducing drag forces. Predicting dynamic forces makes it far easier to implement exterior design modifications and eliminate or smooth out the forces promoting excessive fuel consumption.
A more interesting CFD application is in the optimization of exhaust gas after it passes through treatment devices like the catalytic converter and muffler. Through pollutant species simulations, engineers can leverage the component design against significant emission reduction, as well as overall improvement in vehicle performance. This is important because automakers are being forced to adopt lean methodologies and optimize new cars with less harmful emissions.
Building an environmental friendly car doesn't simply end with design optimization. A zero-emission vehicle is one that's also manufactured without harming the environment. Simulation tools are also useful in designing manufacturing plants that leave smaller carbon footprints.
Mehul Patel specializes in CFD projects for the automobile, aerospace, oil and gas, and building HVAC sectors. He has worked as a CFD consultant with Hi-Tech Computer Aided Engineering for the past five years and has successfully executed numerous complex CFD projects.