We have over 40 years experience in relation to the aerodynamic characteristics of vehicles, covering the key areas of cooling, performance and stability. This is applied to a wide range of vehicle types from ground effect open wheel race cars to performance sports car, passenger cars, heavy goods vehicles and buses.

We use a range of techniques, building on wind tunnel modelling and numerical flow simulations, to measure and predict aerodynamic loads and pressures acting on a vehicle and the nature of the associated flow field, both external and internal.

We have been among the pioneers in this field in developing a fundamental understanding of the key issues concerning the integration of aerodynamics within the development cycle of a new vehicle. We are exploring ways of exploiting advanced experimental and numerical simulation techniques and applying these to innovative areas of automotive aerodynamics such as passive and active flow control for a range of vehicle configurations.

We have worked with a number of partners from across the world including:

  • Aston Martin Lagonda Limited

  • Axon Automotive Limited

  • Bentley Motors Limited

  • SAIC Motor Corporation Limited

  • Tata Motors European Technical Centre.

Our links with industry are often through collaborative programmes co-ordinated by agencies such as Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl), European Commission (EC).

About our research

Our greatest strength is the ability to combine the academic rigour and long-term perspective of a university with the commercial and business focus of industry.

Our excellence in strategic and applied research has enabled us to make significant contributions to the world around us for over 60 years. We address real life challenges and focus on research that is of strategic and practical importance.

We provide a supportive research community for students and our academic work is regularly published in journal article, book or thesis form.

Our facilities

We operate a number of facilities which are dedicated to vehicle aerodynamics:

• A fixed ground simulation with full upstream boundary layer control is available for the 2.4m x 1.8m closed working facility, which incorporates a six component under-floor balance and adjustable turntable for evaluation of loads under simulated crosswind conditions

• A radiator wind tunnel for heat exchanger studies and a dynamic rig for the assessment of transient loads on vehicles during overtaking manoeuvres

• A range of supporting instrumentation is available including probe based and optical flow diagnostics and multiple port digital pressure scanning systems

• The key wind tunnels are the 2.4m x 1.8m closed working section and 2.7m x 1.6m open working section automotive wind tunnels which have a moving ground simulation and are suitable for model testing at typically 30-50% sub-scale.These are supported with external and internal force/moment balance systems and dynamic strut model mounting arrangements to ensure efficient model installation and high productivity during test schedules.

Working with us

We work with industry at a number of different levels in relation to vehicle aerodynamics. Our facilities, both experimental and computational, are available for commercial hire, this can include access to advanced diagnostic methods, equipment and the associated expertise as required. We have been involved in long term vehicle development programmes in which we have acted as sub-contractor for all or part of the vehicle aerodynamic development.

Our role has often been in relation to the aerodynamic development of concept or experimental configurations. We are familiar with the requirements for commercial security and can accommodate sensitive material and models within our wind tunnel laboratory and associated manufacturing facilities. We partner industry in R&D programmes funded by agencies such as Innovate UK and the European Commission.

A number of our research degree candidates, both MSc and PhD are sponsored by industrial partners to undertake vehicle aerodynamics related projects.