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Experimental study of multiple-channel automotive underbody diffusers

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journal contribution
posted on 20.07.2010 by Lydia Jowsey, Martin Passmore
Underbody diffusers are used widely in race car applications because they can significantly improve the cornering capacity of the vehicle through the generation of a downforce. They are also likely to have a wider role in reducing the drag in road vehicles as it becomes increasingly important to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. This paper reports on a wind tunnel investigation, using a simplified bluff body model, into the effect of splitting a simple plane diffuser into multiple channels. Tests are reported for a range of diffuser geometries suitable for road and race car applications. The results for the lift, the drag, and the incremental changes to the lift-to-drag ratio are reported and discussed in terms of the underbody pressures. While broadly similar trends to the single-channel plane diffuser are seen in the multiplechannel diffuser configurations, it was found that the effect of increasing the number of channels depended on the flow regimes present in the plane diffuser. At angles just above the plane diffuser optimum, where the flow is partially separated, the multiple-channel configurations give large improvements in the downforce with minimal increase in the drag, significantly extending the performance envelope. The pressure maps indicate that the gains occur through improved diffuser pumping and pressure recovery in both the inner and the outer channels.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


JOWSEY, L. and PASSMORE, M.A., 2010. Experimental study of multiple-channel automotive underbody diffusers. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering, 224(7), pp. 865-879


Professional Engineering Publishing / © IMECHE


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This article has been published in the journal, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering [© IMechE]. The definitive version is available at: