The application of piezo-electrically-driven synthetic-jet-based active flow control to reduce drag on tractor-trailers was explored experimentally in wind tunnel testing as well as full-scale road tests. Aerodynamic drag accounts for more than 50% of the usable energy at highway speeds, a problem that applies primarily to trailer trucks. Therefore, a reduction in aerodynamic drag results in large saving of fuel and reduction in CO2 emissions. The active flow control technique that is being used relies on a modular system comprised of distributed, small, highly efficient actuators. These actuators, called synthetic jets, are jets that are synthesized at the edge of an orifice by a periodic motion of a piezoelectric diaphragm(s) mounted on one (or more) walls of a sealed cavity. The synthetic jet is zero net mass flux (ZNMF), but it allows momentum transfer to flow. It is typically driven near diaphragm and/or cavity resonance, and therefore, small electric input [O(10W)] is required. Another advantage of this actuator is that no plumbing is required. The system doesn’t require changes to the body of the truck, can be easily reconfigured to various types of vehicles, and consumes small amounts of electrical power from the existing electrical system of the truck. Preliminary wind tunnel results showed up to 18% reduction in fuel consumption, whereas road tests also showed very promising results.
SPIE Conference, Las Vegas, NV, March 21-24, 2016