Ford Set to Invest $200M in New Wind Tunnel Test Facility

Discussion in 'In the News' started by xcel, Mar 11, 2017.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] New complex focuses on improving aerodynamics design from the B-segment Fiesta to the latest GT race car.

    [​IMG]Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Mar. 1, 2017

    Fuel economy is always near the top of an automobile purchasers wish list and Ford is investing hundreds of millions of USD to keep their next new products competitive in that regard.

    Ford’s new aerodynamic testing complex incorporates a next-generation rolling road wind tunnel and state-of-the-art climatic chamber. The new facility will come complete with testing advancements that better match the technological development of Ford products – both production vehicles and racing vehicles.

    According to the release, the new wind tunnel complex will sit on 13 acres next to Ford’s current Driveability Test Facility in Allen Park, Michigan. The complex will house new innovative technology that delivers state-of-the-art real-world driving simulations to advance improvements in fuel economy.

    Ford’s new wind tunnel complex better positions its engineers to conduct testing that proves out advancements in vehicle design. A new five-belt conveyor system can replicate real-world drag through a rolling road aerodynamic tunnel that enables Ford to bring the road to the vehicle, rather than the vehicle to the road.

    To test for optimal fuel efficiency, each wheel gets its own belt. The massive fifth belt runs under the center of the vehicle, allowing airflow around the entire vehicle at speeds up to 155 mph. As a part of the rolling road belt cartridge system, a crane will be used to switch between the five belt and single belt systems – an industrial-sized plug-and-play approach bringing two testing methods into one. The single belt operates at speeds up to 200 mph.

    The wind tunnel is capable of producing a full environmental airflow simulation, with speeds from 155 mph to 200 mph. This expanded air-flow will enable engineers to validate vehicle designs at a higher quality and repeatability. This strengthens testing for aerodynamic shielding, high-speed performance and other design features.

    The climatic chamber can get as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, colder than the Arctic, and as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the Sahara.

    To accommodate large-frame vehicles, including Super Duty trucks, the new aerodynamic complex will “super-size” wind tunnel chambers.
    ALS likes this.
  2. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    I watch a TV show called "Ice Pilots" and it seems the temperature gets lower than minus 40. I have a feeling hottest temperatures now get above 140, too. Good range for testing, but they shouldn't claim worst case. Just saying... :)
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  3. MortimerSnerd

    MortimerSnerd New Member

    If there was any doubt about these car companies being serious about electric/ICE fuel efficency, that just evaporated. Car companies dont blow that kind of money on a marketing whim. Electric is here to stay, and the gradual change from gasoline/diesel powered vehicles to electric over the next 20 or 30 years or in the intrim hybrid, requires the fine-tuning of vehicle aerodynamic profiles to help squeeze the best energy economy and vehicle performance out of any particular design. Until battery energy densities provide similar range, recharging and performance to that of a full tank pure ICE machine, PHEV vehicles will likely dominate the market for a while. And it may be quite a while because of the electo-chemical chemistries of present battery technology still have many limitations.
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  4. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Mortimer:

    Very well said.

    There is a window for H2 and the FCV - also an electrified drivetrain - to take hold if the Energy manufacturers can bring down H2 production, transportation, and compressed storage costs to parity with gasoline on a $/mile basis. Meaning the 70 Mi/kg H2 FCV needs to be fueled to match the HEV at 50 mpg.

    The reason is the FCVs 3 to 5-minute refueling for 300+ miles of range is closing in on the 600 miles of range a Prius with a standard 3 to 5-minute refuel.

    On a cost basis, the picture is a bit less rosy. Currently H2 costs upwards of $15/kg ($0.21/mile at 70 miles/kg) and is way off the mark vs. $2.20/gallon of gasoline ($0.04/mile at 50 mpg).

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  5. MortimerSnerd

    MortimerSnerd New Member

    Wayne... am somewhat familiar with the FCV technolgy; well developed by Ballard Power Systems of Burnaby (Vancouver) British Columbia. It was once touted by your former governer Big Arnold himself who once promoted the Hydrogen Highway dream. That string of hydrogen refuelling stations, 300 miles apart, stretching from Whistler (100miles north of Vancover) all the way down to LA and beyond along the I-5 . But not all is lost as Ballard have recently signed a technology transfer deal with VW and as hydrogen fuel cell technolgy matures and the lingering bugs get ironed out we may see more mainstream auto makers go beyond the proof of concept auto show stage. Safe storage of high pressure hydrogen fuel has always been a problem. As soon as people think of hydrogen and transportation their minds tend wander to that newclip of the 1937's disaster, the Hindenburg. But recent new developments in H storage mediums have mitigated many of those concerns.

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  6. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    He likes to be called "The Governator".
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  7. Carcus

    Carcus Well-Known Member

    So Ford's getting a new 200 mph wind tunnel ,.. eh? They turn it up to "EF-5" and then scrape the F-150 off the back wall and look for clues?
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  8. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Certainly seems more appropriate for GT and other racing programs, eh? :)

    I wonder if fluidic computational analysis could be used more effectively (and more inexpensively) rather than sinking major $$ into these "toys."

    edit: Eek! I've been watching too much "Ice Pilots, NWT"... (got hooked on a couple seasons on Netflix; bought the series) I'm turning Canadian! ;)
    xcel likes this.
  9. Trollbait

    Trollbait Well-Known Member

    Hydrogen for fuel is pretty much a non-starter for the US. The cars would never succeed if the infrastructure was allowed to grow organically like it once did for gasoline and diesel. The fueling stations need to be there first, which means a massive investment by the government, because private industry won't do it. Then the standard that allows the nominal refuel speed of 5kgs in 3 to 5 minutes also allows for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the climate and amount of hydrogen available at the pump. Transferring compressed gas will never be as quick and easy as with a liquid. I'll likely see a 320kW charger before a hydrogen station.

    Liquid fueled FCEVs are possible, but think they will be more likely as a range extender to a plug in for personal cars.
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