Today is wisdom Wednesday! The day where we enlighten you a little more on the technical aspects of our project and how we challenge the future of urban mobility with these technological innovations. This week: we have already told you about the importance of aerodynamics for RED Shift, but how do you test the aerodynamics of the final product? Our Aerodynamics Engineer Arne explains which tests we have subjected RED Shift to!

Flashback to the design of RED Shift

During the design phase we optimized the design of RED Shift as much as we could with the help of CFD-calculations. In a CFD calculation, numerical computer models make it possible to simulate the flow of air around an object. In the CFD-simulation, a 3D model is made of the situation which has to be calculated, in our case our solar car. All the relevant information for the flow of air are accounted for in the model. These calculation are very reliable, but it is very likely that (small) discrepancies exist between the ‘perfect’ car simulated in CFD and the real car which we have built during our production phase.  Things such as surface roughness, small size- and form deviations could influence the total aerodynamic drag of RED Shift.

The way the wind blows!

Last month we had the chance to completely test RED Shift in the DNW wind tunnel. A wind tunnel is a laboratory facility which allows us to investigate the aerodynamic features of an object. By guiding air, under controlled circumstances, around these objects it is possible to determine the effect of the air on an  object, and the other way around. We were able to test if RED Shift performed as we expected when subjected to different wind speeds and side wind. This allowed us to visualize the difference between the ‘ideal car’, as simulated in CFD, and the RED Shift we built. After this test we concluded that our calculations in CFD during the design phase were very accurate. The aerodynamic drag we measured with RED Shift is comparable to that of as small bottle of soda!

Configuration and iteration

Besides these tests we performed configuration tests, where we made small changes to RED Shift each time, so we could identify the perfect configuration. This has yielded very useful information for during the race! We have been able to adjust RED Shift in a way that is very energy efficient!

White smoke!

Finally we used smoke to see how the air flows around RED Shift. This makes it possible to see the streamlines on and around the car. This was, for me as an Aerodynamics Engineer, an absolute highlight! It allowed me to finally see up close what I have been studying on the computer for months. And I can assure you, what we saw is looking good!

Wisdom Wednesday recap:

  • The aerodynamic design is simulated with the help of CFD calculations
  • A wind tunnel allows us to test the flow of air around an object, which is very important in verifying the aerodynamic design!
  • By guiding smoke around an object it is possible to visualize how the object behaves in the wind

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