Tuesday, 21 Oct, 2008 Technology

New Wind Chamber from Volvo to Save Fuel Consumption and CO2 Emissions


In one of its factories the Swedish company, Volvo, installed a 27-square-meter wind-producing chamber. The wind channel from the company's facility in Gothenburg generates airflow around and under the body of a vehicle. Thus Volvo hopes to improve the design of its new cars that use less fuel and emit less CO2.

The wing-generating chamber features four steel belts that rotate the wheels of a vehicle at motorway pace. There's also one central belt, which is 5.3 meters long and 1 meter wide. It imitates the road under the vehicle and can reach speeds of up to 161mph.

In addition, the channel includes a huge 5MW fan that produces the air that the car would be driving against. The new device is to help scientists at Volvo get a better understanding of aerodynamic forces that occur in real conditions.

The cost of the project is 20 million euros (almost $26.5 million). The company looks forward to focus on the aerodynamics in wheels and the underside of a car. Such information cannot be obtained in common wind tunnels, where cars stand still and do not move against airflow.

According to Tim Walker, the company's expert in aerodynamics, the chamber has been developed so it would provide an accurate simulation of airflow around and under the vehicle when it drives on an ordinary road against wind speeds that reach 95mph. Such powerful winds can be simulated with the help of 8 meter-long carbon fiber blades, The Engineer reports.

With the help of its new tunnel, scientists at Volvo already managed to lower air resistance in the company's new Volvo C30 DRIVe by 10 percent compared to the current model C30 1.6D. Lower air resistance helped Volvo reduce the emission of carbon dioxide to about 3 grams/km.

Other advantages obtained from the use of the new chamber include reduction of fuel consumption by more than 0.11/100 km, but the Swedish auto manufacturer says that in real driving situations, drivers will be able to save two times more fuel. Volvo estimated that after 15,000km a driver will save around 45liters of fuel.

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