Monday, October 31, 2011

Airbox spillage and fluidics

A couple of weeks ago, the FIA issued a Technical Directive to the Formula One teams, announcing that off-throttle blowing of the exhausts will be severely curtailed in 2012 by engine mapping restrictions.

In combination with stringent requirements on the position and angle of the exhaust exits, this is intended to minimise the exploitation of exhaust flow for aerodynamic purposes. It will, however, have a secondary consequence. As Gary Anderson recently explained, off-throttle exhaust flow also serves to reduce spillage from the airbox:

"In the past when the driver closed the throttle to slow for a corner, the airbox spillage became a lot worse. If the airflow attachment on the sides of the engine cover was not good, the performance of the rear wing would be compromised – not something the driver wants under braking or on corner entry.

"Step forward the blown diffuser. Hot or cold blowing allows the engine to work like an air pump, moving this airflow through and out of the exhausts. This reduces the potential turbulent airflow creating negative performance on the rear wing.

If off-throttle blowing of the exhausts is genuinely to be prohibited next year by means of engine mapping restrictions, this will presumably re-create the problem of airflow spilling out of the airbox when the driver lifts off the throttle on turn-in to a corner.

So here's an idea: Why not introduce a fluidic switch which, under certain circumstances, re-routes the airbox airflow through the chassis to the lower leading edge of the sidepods? This could have the joint benefit of boosting the velocity of the underbody flow, and improving airflow to the rear wing, just at the time when the driver most needs it, when the car is in pitch under braking and turn-in.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Exhaust-blown diffusers in 2012?

The 2012 Formula One regulations are intended to prohibit the use of exhaust-blown diffusers: stringent requirements have been placed on the location of the exhaust exit, and a recent announcement from the FIA suggests that engine mapping restrictions will be imposed to eliminate off-throttle pumping of the exhaust jet.

Craig Scarborough has produced a fantastic analysis of the exact restrictions to be placed on the location and orientation of the exhaust exit. In short, these move the exhaust exit to at least 500mm in front of the rear axle line, and 250mm above the reference plane underneath the car. The exhaust exit must also be angled upwards by at least 10 degrees. Hence, it will no longer be possible to blow the exhaust directly between the outer edge of the diffuser and inner face of the rotating rear wheel. Moreover, it will be illegal to place any sprung bodywork in a cone-shaped region, aligned with the exhaust exit, diverging at 3 degrees, and terminating at the rear axle line.

So will this be sufficient to eliminate exhaust-blown diffusers? Well, the first thing to note is that whilst it will be impossible to point the exhaust exit down at the diffuser, this won't necessarily prevent the exhaust jet itself from playing in that direction. When an exhaust jet exits into a cross-stream, the jet almost behaves like a deformable solid, as emphasised by F.L.Parra and K.Kontis in their 2006 paper, Aerodynamic effectiveness of the flow of exhaust gases in a generic formula one car configuration, from which the illustration here is taken.

If the exhaust exit is placed flush in the rearward face of sidepods sweeping downwards at a fairly steep angle, then the freestream airflow could deflect the exhaust jet towards the diffuser. The degree to which the jet is deflected is determined by the ratio between the velocity of the jet and the velocity of the cross-stream flow. The smaller the ratio, the more the jet is deflected.

Hence, there is something of a trade-off necessary here. To allow the exhaust jet to be deflected down towards the diffuser requires a lower exhaust jet velocity, yet for the exhaust jet to be effective in that region, requires higher jet velocities. There may be a compromise solution available here, an optimum exhaust velocity, which permits the jet to be directed towards the outer edge of the diffuser with sufficient velocity to have an effect, but that's something which only CFD and wind-tunnel experimentation will be able to determine...