Research and Design Optimization of Automotive Cooling System

In today's automotive field, many systems and components require computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis during the design process to ensure their optimal performance, reliability, cost, and time to market. These systems and components may be structural parts, electronic components, or both. CFD analysis is one of the three major methods of system design. In addition, there is another method in the system design is to make a physical prototype, test the physical prototype, and then optimize and improve the design, and need to repeat this process, this method is extremely expensive and very time-consuming. There is another way to over-design, which will bring a "safe" solution, but may be less cost-effective, and may cause a loss of performance for systems that want to operate in narrow bandwidth. Combining "virtual prototypes" with CFD analysis in the early stages of design and throughout the design process can provide an optimized system at a lower cost (fewer physical prototypes) and make the system go to market faster.

Very representative examples of complex automotive systems are engine and lubricant cooling systems. It is said to be complicated because it contains not only the coolant delivery piping system, but also the engine cooling water jacket and other components that can actually cool the engine. Let's explore how this design process can progress and how CFD tools can be used to optimize this system.

Key tool selection

Suppose we work for a car company that is developing a new car model, but we want to use a reliable engine that has been proven for many years. We must design a new cooling system that will use this engine, but requires a new piping system for the engine and the cabin. I have two CFD analysis tools, one of which can be used to analyze the piping system, which can be regarded as one-dimensional (referring to the unidirectional flow of fluid in the coolant pipe) analysis. Another three-dimensional tool can analyze components for complex fluid flow and heat exchange. The system to be designed is obviously a combination of one-dimensional piping system and three-dimensional complex parts. Which CFD tool should I use to analyze this system?

Design of an automobile cooling system (Electronic Engineering Album)

Figure 1: The automotive cooling system contains simple piping and very complex components such as the engine water jacket

One-dimensional tools for simulation analysis are significantly faster than three-dimensional tools, but they are not accurate enough when simulating complex water jackets. But if we only use three-dimensional CFD tools to analyze the entire system, we can get the exact results we need, but the simulation calculation time will be too long to achieve the purpose of using several design methods for virtual experiments. The best way is to integrate 1D and 3D tools and take advantage of both.

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