Experimental and computational study of vehicle surface contamination on a generic bluff body

This paper focuses on methods used to model vehicle surface contamination arising as a result of rear wake aerodynamics. Besides being unsightly, contamination, such as self-soiling from rear tyre spray, can degrade the performance of lighting, rear view cameras and obstruct visibility through windows. In order to accurately predict likely contamination patterns, it is necessary to consider the aerodynamics and multiphase spray processes together. This paper presents an experimental and numerical (CFD) investigation of the phenomenon. The experimental study investigates contamination with controlled conditions in a wind tunnel using a generic bluff body (the Windsor model.) Contamination is represented by a water spray located beneath the rear of the vehicle. The aim is to investigate the fundamentals of contamination in a case where both flow field and contamination patterns can be measured, and also to provide validation of modelling techniques in a case where flow and spray conditions are known. CFD results were obtained using both steady RANS and unsteady URANS solvers, combined with particle tracking methods. Steady RANS does not capture the wake structures accurately and this affects the contamination prediction. URANS is able to recover the large-scale wake unsteadiness seen in the experimental data, but the difference between the experimental and computational contamination distributions is still notable. The CFD is also able to provide further insight by showing the behaviour of particles of different sizes. Large particles are found to take on a ballistic trajectory and penetrate the wake. In contrast, small particles are shown to be less likely to become entrained into the wake.