Improvement of the aerodynamic performance of the Formula SAE Car

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University of New Brunswick


The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) International Formula SAE program is an engineering design competition for undergraduate and graduate students. Students enter as a team to develop and construct a single-seat race car with the goal of having the best overall design, construction, performance, and cost. The SAE team for the University of New Brunswick will be competing in this competition in May 2017. To optimize the performance of the car, the aerodynamics of the vehicle was addressed as a concept that could be improved. Based on the background research and calculations that were performed, it was decided that the best approach to improve the performance of the car was to increase the downforce on the car by adding front and rear wings. Quantitatively speaking, it was estimated that up to 1.2 s could be saved for every lap of the endurance event with the addition of wings. To achieve that objective, a multi-element airfoil design composed of an Eppler 420 for the main element and a NACA 4412 for the flap was chosen. Both the front and the rear wings were analyzed using CFD to determine the optimal angle of attack and the magnitude of the aerodynamic forces at play. The section lift coefficients that were obtained were then made three-dimensional by taking into account the effects of aspect ratio on the performance of the wings. Endplates were also placed on the wings to increase the effective aspect ratio and therefore lift. The lift coefficient of the rear wing was found to be 2.1 while the one for the front wing was 2.5. This meant that 43% of the aerodynamic forces were placed on the front wheels. From a manufacturing perspective, it was decided that the wings should be made of a fiber glass and epoxy shell surrounding a foam core. The endplates would be made of 3003 Aluminum. Plywood sections would also be placed inside the shell to provide additional support and allow for the joining of the various components. The strength of all the parts was then determined by using empirical data and performing FEA simulations. A scaled prototype for the design symposium of each wing was also manufactured using a 3D printer. Although it was not possible to build the wings during the course of this project, detailed drawings were made to allow the UNB Formula SAE Club to fabricate them and add them to their race car.