Freightliner gets wind-tunnel-tested

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 14, 2004) — Freightliner LLC has announced the opening of North America’s first-ever advanced transportation research facility to study the aerodynamics of heavy- and medium-duty vehicles.

Located near the company’s headquarters in Portland, the new Freightliner Wind Tunnel accommodates a full-sized heavy-duty truck. The Freightliner Group — a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler and parent company of Freightliner, Sterling, and Western Star truck brands — will use data and experience from the wind tunnel testing to refine the aerodynamics on its trucks with the overall objective of reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

The 12,000-square foot wind tunnel facility will allow for a uniform, repeatable airflow over all Freightliner LLC trucks being tested. This will enable Freightliner engineers to collect comprehensive data on airflow and aerodynamic performance. Sensors will provide information regarding wind load and surface pressures on the vehicle as a whole and for specific parts. Non-toxic fog will be used to provide airflow visualization and qualitative data regarding localized airflow. A sophisticated instrumentation system is employed to operate the wind tunnel, monitor ambient conditions and record aerodynamic data.

The wind tunnel works by drawing air in through the intake at very low speeds through fine screens and aluminum honeycomb to remove any turbulence. The air then accelerates as it moves through the contraction cone into the test section where the air flow is smooth and uniform. This is where the test vehicle is placed and all of the data is recorded. The air then moves past the test section through the fans and is decelerated and vented upwards.

The company will use this wind tunnel not only to test upcoming new products, but to refine aerodynamics on existing vehicles. The system was designed by the Freightliner Engineering team with help from the Freightliner Vehicle Systems Technology Center (VSTC), NASA Ames Research Center, Portland State University, and the Mercedes-Benz Trucks analysis team.

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