Feasibility Study into the Aerodynamic Improvement of Caravans
Business: The Fifth Wheel Company Ltd.
Result Areas: Analysis of Aerodynamic Drag Force Properties
Technology: Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) Simulation
The Fifth Wheel Company design and manufacture luxury caravans for leisure purposes and mobile units for commercial and police enforcement requirements. The company is the original and only UK based manufacturer of European-compliant fifth wheel type tourers. Currently, Fifth Wheel Company produces a wide range of caravans, trucks and commercial trailers. The main objectives are to provide the customer with an incredible space, outstanding design and an easy, safe towing experience.
No CFD analysis has been carried out into the area of aerodynamics on any of their product range and this has been identified as a potential area of further development with significant impact. Experience of the aerodynamic drag forces acting on a general commercial vehicle shows that it can account for up to 60 % of total fuel consumption. In order to keep the fuel consumption as close to the towing vehicle alone even when towing a caravan with its inherent mass the desire is to improve the combined vehicle aerodynamics to offset some of the increase in fuel consumption due to the additional towed mass from the caravan.
ASTUTE at Glyndŵr University has carried out a feasibility study into assessing the aerodynamic properties of the Fifth Wheel Company Celtic Rambler model in order to reduce the aerodynamic drag of the caravan and, concurrently, fuel consumption.
The aim of the study was to look into:
- Possible reduction of the overall drag of the caravan by 20 %.
- The aerodynamic flow around the caravan.
- The drag reduction effect of different towing vehicles and the fuel efficiency.
In order to reduce the aerodynamic drag force CFD simulation was conducted to gain a better understanding of the airflow and its implications on future caravan design. Five potential drag vehicles and sixteen different case conditions were simulated.
ASTUTE was able to demonstrate the usefulness of CFD and to provide a number of recommendations on how to create a more aerodynamically efficient, streamlined caravan to reduce fuel consumption, thereby saving costs and reducing environmental impact.
Having seen the benefits of the ASTUTE work and employing further CFD, the company will now look further into developing different designs for future caravan models which could potentially:
- Achieve 34 % of drag reduction compared to the original
- Achieve 22.5 % of power reduction thus reduced fuel consumption
- Reduce the size of the trailing wake considerably
- Modify the geometry of the caravan into a more streamlined shape.
CO2 saved and reduced energy consumption, air pollution and global warming.
“The aerodynamic analysis project undertaken through the ASTUTE project and Glyndŵr University has given us an insight into a very important aspect of our product that we would never have previously considered. The concise data produced will be of benefit in the design and development of future models and hopefully give us an advantage over our competitors.”
- Gethin Whiteley, Head of Design, The Fifth Wheel Company Ltd.