Formula SAE is a student competition organized by SAE International. The team of students design, manufacture and race a car. Restrictions are imposed by the Formula SAE rules committee to restrict the air flow into the intake manifold by putting a single restrictor of 20 mm. This rule limits the maximum engine power by reducing the mass flow rate flowing to the engine. The pull is greater at higher rpms and the pressure created inside the cylinder is low. As the diameter of the flow path is reduced, the cross sectional area for flow reduces. For cars running at low rpm when the engine requires less air, the reduction in area is compensated by accelerated flow of air through the restrictor. Since this is for racing purpose cars here are designed to run at very high rpms where the flow at the throat section reach sonic velocities. Due to these restrictions the teams are challenged to come up with improved restrictor designs that allow maximum pressure drop across the restrictor’s inlet and outlet. The design considered for optimizing a flow restrictor is a venturi type having 20 mm restriction between the inlet and the outlet complying with the rules set by Formula SAE committee.
The primary objective of this work is to optimize the flow restriction device that achieves maximum mass flow and minimum pull from the engine. This implies the pressure difference created due to the cylinder pressure and the atmospheric pressure at the inlet should be minimum. An optimum flow restrictor is designed by conducting analysis on various converging and diverging angles and coming up with an optimum value.
Venturi type is a tubular pipe with varying diameter along its length, through which the fluid flows. Law of governing fluid dynamics states that the “Velocity of the fluid increases as it passes through the constriction to satisfy the principle of continuity”. An equation can be derived from the combination of Bernoulli’s equation and Continuity equation for the pressure drop due to venturi effect. .
A Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) tool is used to calculate the minimum pressure drop across the restrictor by running a series of analysis on various converging and diverging angles and calculating the pressure drop. As a result, an optimum air flow restrictor is achieved that maximizes the mass flow rate and minimizes the engine pull.