10.1007%2Fs00348-017-2473-0.pdf (14.48 MB)

Evolution of the bi-stable wake of a square-back automotive shape

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journal contribution
posted on 04.01.2018, 15:50 by Giancarlo Pavia, Martin Passmore, Costantino Sardu
Square-back shapes are popular in the automotive market for their high level of practicality. These geometries, however, are usually characterised by high drag and their wake dynamics present aspects, such as the coexistence of a long-time bi-stable behaviour and short-time global fluctuating modes that are not fully understood. In the present paper, the unsteady behaviour of the wake of a generic square-back car geometry is characterised with an emphasis on identifying the causal relationship between the different dynamic modes in the wake. The study is experimental, consisting of balance, pressure, and stereoscopic PIV measurements. Applying wavelet and cross-wavelet transforms to the balance data, a quasi-steady correlation is demonstrated between the forces and bi-stable modes. This is investigated by applying proper orthogonal decomposition to the pressure and velocity data sets and a new structure is proposed for each bi-stable state, consisting of a hairpin vortex that originates from one of the two model’s vertical trailing edges and bends towards the opposite side as it merges into a single streamwise vortex downstream. The wake pumping motion is also identified and for the first time linked with the motion of the bi-stable vortical structure in the streamwise direction, resulting in out-of-phase pressure variations between the two vertical halves of the model base. A phase-averaged low-order model is also proposed that provides a comprehensive description of the mechanisms of the switch between the bi-stable states. It is demonstrated that, during the switch, the wake becomes laterally symmetric and, at this point, the level of interaction between the recirculating structures and the base reaches a minimum, yielding, for this geometry, a 7% reduction of the base drag compared to the time-averaged result.


The authors would like to thank Jaguar Land Rover for the financial support.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

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Experiments in Fluids






PAVIA, G., PASSMORE, M.A. and SARDU, C., 2018. Evolution of the bi-stable wake of a square-back automotive shape. Experiments in Fluids, 59: 20.


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Springer under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/







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