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CFD Aids Solar Car Project
Posted Sun September 18, 2016 @07:50AM
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Application Chasing the sun 3000km across the Australian Outback is a grueling test. And doing it in a solar-powered vehicle is an even bigger challenge. But every two years teams from around the world converge on Darwin, Australia, to make the journey to Adelaide in the solar-powered cars they have engineered specifically for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

The Stanford Solar Car Project, a student-run, nonprofit organization within Stanford University, has been designing and building solar cars since 1989, and arrives in Darwin every two years with a stunning new vehicle.

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With the aerodynamics of the vehicle playing a critical role in its performance, the Stanford Solar Car Project team developed a repeatable design-simulation framework consisting of Pointwise for rapid hybrid mesh generation, SU2 to run the CFD simulations, and Tecplot 360 EX to post-process and interpret the results.

simulation tools
The aerodynamics tool-chain with SU2 CFD Code, Pointwise Meshing and Tecplot Visualization & Analysis.

To understand SU2 simulation results, the Solar Car team used Tecplot 360 EX. The first thing they needed to do is understand if their CFD simulations ran correctly. They wanted to minimize drag and get lift very close to zero. They looked for areas of drag on the vehicle, which is commonly visualized by looking at pressure contours as well as streamlines. How did the Solar Car team use Tecplot 360 EX in their design iterations? They set-up a process where they would do each design iteration, and they had a set of predefined images they could create using plot layouts. A layout is a set of instructions to tell Tecplot 360 EX what data to load and then how to represent it in the view. For example, the team created images that show surface quantities of the pressure coefficient and streamlines going around the vehicle.

Analyze the results in Tecplot 360 EX using multiple frames.

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Related Links
  • Bridgestone World Solar Challenge
  • Pointwise
  • Read the full story
  • Stanford Solar Car Project
  • SU2
  • Tecplot
  • Tecplot 360 EX
  • More on Application
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