The automotive industry, especially the high performance sector, is constantly pushing the technological limits of design, engineering, and manufacturing processes. One car that especially demonstrates this is Chevrolet’s new 2014 Corvette Stingray. This car has been completely re-thought from the wheels up and uses the latest technology to do so.
One of the first things you notice when you see the new Corvette is all of the vents, scoops, and air dams placed strategically around the vehicle. Although they look great, their main function is to manipulate the airflow around the car in order to increase performance in various ways. For example, the vents in the hood allow hot air to escape the engine bay reducing under-hood temperatures while also reducing front-end lift, which makes the car more planted at higher speeds. The front brakes have their own dedicated ducting to keep air circulating over them to control temperatures, reduce brake fade, and improve overall stopping performance. Moving to the rear of the car, you will find more intake vents on the rear quarter panels. These openings route air over coolers for the transmission and differential to keep internal fluid temperature down for reliability reasons. The air escapes through vents and ports near the tail lamps and lower fascia.
To develop the new Corvette, engineers at Chevrolet used the latest in computer simulation software, and using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), were able to go through multiple design iterations optimizing aerodynamic features of the car before moving on to the wind tunnel testing. Knowing how the air flows around and through a vehicle’s ducting can be a challenging task, but thanks to CFD you can accurately predict fluid flow characteristics such as air speed, temperatures, pressures, and where turbulence is likely to occur. CFD simulation can be implemented in other areas of the vehicle as well. Chevrolet engineers spent over 6 million hours running analysis of the combustion system resulting in increases in torque, power, and fuel economy over the previous engine.
Being able to run these simulations before having to actually build anything is a great resource for engineers and designers, as well as a great way to reduce the iterative process of inventing new products. You can read more about the 2014 Corvette Stingray here.
Written by: Bryson Stewart, Mechanical Engineer, Beyond Design