Thursday, September 6, 2012

A tool to determine airfoil shape using rim cross section

Just a small tool to see how the airfoil shape of a wheel is modified when the distance from the ground to an horizontal cut plane is changed. As the wind is constrained to flow parallel to the ground, this airfoil shape is what the wind sees depending on the distance to the ground. Bontrager commented some time ago that they tried to improve the performance of their airfoil shape for h=0 (h is the distance from the hub axle to the horizontal cut plane) because the aspect ratio is the lowest and this was the worst case scenario. I haven't got neither CFD nor wind tunnel data to back this up but, as you will see in the following graphics, chord length and the shape of the airfoil changes notably when h is modified. To illustrate how this tool works, I will use the following rim cross section:

NACA 0030 (3.333:1) symmetric airfoil with an overlaid 20mm tire. This could be assimilated to a 70-75mm rim with tall blades and curved brake walls. 27mm at widest point

The following plot shows the tire leading side for some values of h:

Wheel radius, 0.34m. Yellow, h=0.1m. Green, h=0.21m. Blue, h=0.26m. Black, h=0.32m. As you can see, when h increases, the widest point approaches to the leading edge of the airfoil. When h>wheel radius-chord length, tire leading and rim leading sides form an unique airfoil

Finally, in the following graphic, the relation between aspect ratio and h for the interval with separated tire leading and rim leading sides airfoils is shown :

It goes from 3.333:1 to 8.535:1. Average is 4.069:1

That's all for today. Greetings

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