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Testing Ground-effect Aerodynamics on a Scaled F1 Car

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Engineering Technology Potpourri

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

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Paper Authors


Maher Shehadi Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Shehadi is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET) at Purdue University. His academic experiences have focused on learning and discovery in areas related to HVAC, indoor air quality, human thermal comfort, and energy conservation. While working with industry, he oversaw maintenance and management programs for various facilities including industrial plants, high rise residential and commercial buildings, energy audits and condition surveys for various mechanical and electrical and systems. He has conducted several projects to reduce carbon dioxide and other building emission impacts by evaluating and improving the energy practices through the integration of sustainable systems with existing systems. His current research focuses on engaging and educating students in sustainable and green buildings' design and energy conservation. He is currently investigating various ways to reduce energy consumption in office buildings.

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Formula-1 (F1) racing cars aerodynamic effects are mainly controlled by the body contours and other aerodynamic elements such as over-body wings. Over-body wings tend to force the car downwards but would increase the drag force on the car. This capstone project investigated the ground effects on a scaled F1 car by testing the down force and drag force with and without ground effects. To meet the objectives, an 8.8 feet-long wind tunnel was built by the team having a 6 × 6 cross-section testing chamber running air at an approximate speed of 34 miles per hour (mph) which simulates an actual speed of 150 mph in actual racing environment. Six revisions of ground effect structures were 3D printed to test ground effect improvements on the scaled F1 car inside the wind tunnel. The conceptual structure design was based on creating low pressure vacuum region between the bottom of the car and the ground by using venture gates and side skirts. The vacuum in turn would suck the car down as close to the ground as possible, which will in turn keep the wheels firmly pressed into the floor. Five revisions of the 3D printed structures were modified to come up with one that fit into the F1 scaled car. The down and drag forces were tested using force sensors. Tests comparisons for the car, with and without the ground effect 3D printed structure, showed 37% increase in the down-force and 26% reduction in the drag force. The capstone was done over 1-semester and was assessed based on progress reports submitted on bi-weekly basis, presentation by the end of the project, final report, and team work. Using these assessment tools, many of the ABET outcomes were met as will be shown in the paper.

Shehadi, M. (2021, July), Testing Ground-effect Aerodynamics on a Scaled F1 Car Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36524

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