Drag Optimization of the E-1 Electric Racecar

The FIA E-1 class racecar developed by Brigham Young University to set a world speed record for Electric Vehicles

A FIA E-1 class racecar was being developed by Brigham Young University to set a world speed record for Electric Vehicles. The car is designed to race on the ultra-flat Salt Flats in Bonneville, Utah. The racecar weighs less than 500kg so increasing the downforce was critical. Reducing aerodynamic drag was also critical due to the power requirements of the racecar.
The surface of the streamliner needed to be shaped over a defined frame. The front end and the under-carriage needed to be designed so that its aerodynamic would generate low drag force with the needed down force. The first was beneficial in achieving the top-speed record, the second was necessary to keep the vehicle down to the ground whilst not compromising the safety and traction.

Morphing the CFD Mesh

Race carOptimal Solutions Sculptor's morphing technology was applied over a Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) model of the vehicle, to define its optimal external skin surface. The original mesh was read into Sculptor, and the model was prepared for morphing.

Using Arbitrary Shape Deformation Volumes, different configurations were instantly tested, without the need of re-creating the mesh. By moving the control points, new configurations were created immediately and then submitted to CFD until the configuration giving the best results was chosen.

Race car

Results

Sculptor deformed the external surface of the car and found an optimal shape that reduced drag by 18% and increased downforce by more than 200 Newtons. Over 100 different designs were run as part of the optimization: this would have taken months in the wind tunnel and weeks using a traditonal remeshing process. With Sculptor the entire optimization was complete in less than three days. The vehicle performed well and with the aerodynamic improvements the speed was increased by 47%.

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Raves

"Sculptor enabled us to perform a robust optimization of our racecar in a fraction of the time that it would have taken using traditional methods. We were able to define the entire design space within a few minutes and the entire optimization was done with less then eight man-hours of work."

Perry Carter
Professor
Brigham Young University