A Wind-Tunnel Study of the Effect of Gap Flow and Gap Seals on the Aerodynamic Drag of Tractor-Trailer Trucks

[+] Author and Article Information
F. T. Buckley, C. H. Marks

Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Maryland, College Park, Md.

J. Fluids Eng 100(4), 434-438 (Dec 01, 1978) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3448703 History: Received June 02, 1975; Online October 12, 2010


The effect of gap width on the aerodynamic drag of a cab-over-engine tractor-trailer combination has been investigated for full-scale gap widths ranging from 0.61 m (24 in) to 1.83 m (72 in.) over a yaw angle range of 0 to 20 deg. The average drag on the vehicle was found to increase by 16 percent as the gap width increased from 0.61 m to 1.83 m. Drag reductions were found when a vertical seal was placed along the vehicle center line between the tractor and the trailer. Generally, the drag reduction increased as the percentage of gap width that was sealed increased, and as the yaw angle increased. The average drag coefficient reduction provided by a full gap seal increased from 0.02 to 0.05 as the gap width increased from 0.61 m to 1.4 m and then decreased slightly for gap widths up to 1.83 m. The effect of vehicle configuration on gap seal effectiveness was evaluated for a gap width of 1.3 m (51 in.) using models of six different tractors and two different trailers. The average drag coefficient reductions that were found ranged from 0.04 to 0.08 with 83 percent of the data being either 0.04 or 0.05. It is shown that the use of gap seals on the nearly half-million vehicles which comprise the nation’s long-haul trucking fleet can result in the conservation of about 1.4 × 109 liters (0.37 × 109 gal) of motor fuel each year.

Copyright © 1978 by ASME
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