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Test & measurement


Aerodynamic pressure scanning I


t is a very slim margin between a race winning car and second place. Any race engineer in the pitlane will tell you


that the difference is tiny and the most important consideration for advantage often lies in aerodynamics. Race car aerodynamic optimisation


continues to become more important in the search for performance advantage. Constrained by the increasingly restrictive rules of the sports’ governing bodies, the skill of the aerodynamicist in seeking performance advantage leads to the need for more accurate


measurement and analysis - and in doing this better than the next team. Innovation and experimentation are at their peak in a fast-changing time-constrained environment and the best aerodynamicists are much- prized and respected. Stringent regulations governing car


shapes and sizes leave the aerodynamicist considering every part in order to reduce drag and gain competitive advantage. Front and rear aerofoils, or wings, together with the bodywork surface push the car down to the road surface. Under the car, complex venturi


shapes increase air velocity, creating a low- pressure “suction” effect, with minimal cost of drag. Winglets and other devices are fitted, in addition to the front and rear wings, to condition the flow for downstream aerodynamics, or directly generate downforce effects themselves. The aerodynamicist usually has three tools in


their “toolbox” for understanding how their ideas translate into reality – CFD, the wind tunnel and real-world on-car measurements. CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) is the least expensive and least time-consuming and provides useful data in narrowing-down the options for consideration at the lowest cost - but it does not give the whole story. From CFD, the engineer will determine the “best few” design concepts and scale models will be built for wind tunnel testing of these designs. In a highly controlled and known environment, the engineer works methodically towards the solution that will be ultimately used on the race car. Scanivalve products, like the MPS4264 miniature pressure scanner, excel in these wind tunnel measurements, providing sensitive, accurate and fast synchronous data for further analysis. When the CFD and Wind Tunnel have


provided confidence and proof of the concept, the new part is manufactured in full-size and fitted to the car where the final testing is done to ensure it does indeed offer performance gain when analysed in the context of the whole vehicle in real-world conditions.


26 November 2018 Instrumentation Monthly


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