The revolutionary Nissan Deltawing

In the movie you can see above, the Nissan Deltawing is presented.
This is a race car that participated in the 2012 Le Mans race. If you just take a look at the design of the car, you will immediately see that it is not a standard race car with spoilers, wings, a huge tires and a large frontal area.

The designers of the car have radically changed their idea about how a racing car should look like and they came up with a completely new approach.
They wanted to cut the aero drag, the tyre wear, the power, and the mass by half. This means the car will be able to drive longer between pit stops. Because they have to do less pit stops, they can gain time on their competitors. But because of the fact that it has lower downforce levels, it will go slower through the corners.
Another thing to which they anticipated very clever is that the car industry is very busy with downsizing their engines. The Nissan Deltawing itself only uses a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine compared to the 3.7 litre Audi engine. This looks a lot more like the engines you will find in little city cars which was one of the main reasons for Nissan to participate in the project.
I do however think that the Le Mans cars will not change drastically because the Deltawing was still outperformed by most of it’s competitors. And in motorsport, it is still the goal to win. So it was a good eyecatcher which could make the people think about a possible future of motorsport but it will never win races, at least for a while.


Williams F1 team’s green sister company

In the video posted below, Oliver Jones from Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) talks about his company. WAE started as a sister company of the Williams F1 team. They try to apply the high tech inventions and know how they gained in Formula 1 to other civil projects. They are active in the field of advanced lightweight materials, hybrid power systems, and electronics.
WAE engineering was founded to make sure that the Williams F1 team could continue to compete at the top level of motorsport. The costs of F1 have risen dramatically in the latest years. This is not so much of a problem for the big manufacturers like Mercedes and Ferrari who can invest a lot of money but the smaller teams really need to be creative to find money. So that is why they sell technology derived from their work in F1 to other companies.

According to me, this is a very good initiative since F1 teams are places where they invest a lot in technological advances which are normally kept secret. But WAE makes sure the team benefits from its research by generating revenue and society also wins by it because WAE already invented a lot of green solutions for wind power problems or hybrid vehicles.


Taking a gander into the practical side of things.

As in most fields of science, Aerodynamics can be devided into a theoretical side and a practical side. During my time with the Punch Powertrain solar team in 2012, I’ve come into contact with both sides of the field, yet at the same time it all still felt very practical to me. My task was to minimalize both drag and lift for the Solar Car the ‘Indupol One’ so me and my colleague deepened ourselves in the basic principles of aerodynamics involving lift and drag.

When we did our simulations, we always checked a couple of important factors like transition between laminar and turbulent flow and points of separating airflow (which highly boosts drag), … and did this with certain software to do this. One of the more interesting things to check was the flow pattern around the model.

When I was testing in the windtunnel, some things we did with software could have been done in practice as well, but the flow pattern around the scale model we tested was not one of them. So I did a bit of research and came up with an interesting setup for 2D problems such as flow in pipes or flow over airfoils. The videos can be seen below:

These techniques, however a bit dated, seem very interesting, but do you think this could be applicable in a windtunnel? And more importantly, do you think this could expanded to 3D use in windtunnels?

Misconceptions in Aerodynamics

It is well established that Fluid Dynamics, more specifically aerodynamics, is a very broad and very difficult area. As 2 students who are not really familiar with this field, we still find it very fascinating, but we couldn’t help but notice that some phenomena were explained differently in some textbooks. As I tried to consult more textbooks, it seemed that there were a lot of misconceptions around certain phenomena.

One of those phenomena is surprisingly ‘Lift’. It is a term that is widely known, even to those who are very unfamiliar with the field and due to being so well known, people tend to think it’s a simple phenomenon. However, despite being that well known, the theory behind lift is much more complicated than one might think. For our masters thesis, it is not our goal to explain lift, but rather to simulate its magnitude in certain situations. However, I still find it interesting to know where it all comes from.

For example, if you were to ask someone why a wing is subjected to lift, a very common answer would be ‘because there is a pressure difference between the upper and lower half of the wing’. This is indeed true, but how does this pressure difference come to be and what forces are in play to make this happen.

Doug Mclean wrote a book concerning these common misconceptions called ” Understanding Aerodynamics: Arguing from the Real Physics ” and talks about these issues. However, to get a clear image of which other misconceptions there are, Mr Mclean has given a lecture for the University of Michigan. This lecture can be viewed below.