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Sports car engineers race to the finish with CFD visualization software


Welcome to Workshop Wednesday, a regular feature of the Tecplot blog. Here, we show you how engineers use our visualization software to create inspiringly accurate—sometimes even world-changing—design simulations.

Toyota Motorsports

To most people, it’s nothing. It’s just the blink of an eye.

To a sports car engineer, though, it makes all the difference.

What is it?

It is one tenth of one second.

In the motorsports industry, getting the best performance possible out of complex speed machines requires intense scrutiny and almost religious maintenance by experienced engineering teams who are relentlessly focused on finding ways to improve air flow, increase downforce, and reduce drag.

Take Toyota Motorsport in Cologne, Germany, for example. There, engineers use wind tunnels with sophisticated built-in PIV systems to help design faster high-performance cars. These PIV systems use a number of highly sophisticated technologies.

And one of them is computational fluid dynamics visualization software.

At Toyota, engineers correlate their PIV results with CFD simulations, both accurately measured and rendered by Tecplot software.

Studying the wake behind the front wheels of a vehicle, after all, can be the difference between a race won and a race lost.

Read the full case study, click here >>.

2009 Formula One season

During the 2009 Formula One season, engineers wanted to study the wake behind the front wheels of a vehicle – a critical part of the flow that can affect the performance of the entire vehicle.

PIV test, Toyota Motorsports

During a particle image velocimetry (PIV) test, Toyota Motorsport engineers position a camera at a 90-degree angle to the plane of the flow field. The wind tunnel is filled with the fog, and the part that needs to be visualized is illuminated with a high-powered laser, creating a 2D plane.

laser used to illuminate flow field around front wheel

A laser is used to illuminate the flow field around the car’s front wheel to take particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurements at Toyota Motorsport.

Toyota Motorsport engineers compare the PIV results

Toyota Motorsport engineers compare the PIV results with their CFD simulations to make sure that the wind tunnel results and CFD methodology correlate.

 CFD methodology is optimized

After comparing the PIV results with the CFD results, the CFD methodology is optimized and is then used to run further CFD simulations.