Side-view mirrors impact the aerodynamic performance of a vehicle due to the creation of extra drag force, noise, and vibration. This paper presents an alternative practical solution for improving aerodynamic performance of vehicle side-view mirrors. A CFD analysis is conducted for studying the airflow around a side-view mirror with different types of passive vortex generators (VGs) mounted on the bottom surface. VGs are small wingtips that are used to produce swirling motion in the flow stream. In recent years, VGs have been used in vehicle underbody diffusers to delay flow separation and to increase the flow control surface. This study aims to understand the effect of underbody VGs on the flow mechanisms downstream of the side-view mirror, and its impact on both drag and down forces.
The turbulent flow behind the side-view mirror is investigated to determine the effects of different VG types and attack angles. Four types of VGs are considered in this work. Changes are made to the baseline model by either adding the VGs close to the frontal edge of the bottom surface of the mirror which aims to control the flow separation, or adding the VGs close to the back edge which aims to reduce the shedding area. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis using ANSYS Fluent is conducted to simulate the flow behavior by using three dimensional Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes method with standard K-epsilon (K-ε) turbulence model. In order to incorporate the effect of vehicle body, each model is assembled on a quad-vehicle bluff body for analysis. The drag and down forces are numerically solved and compared with the results of the baseline model at the speeds of 15, 40, 60 and 80 miles per hour. It is concluded from the CFD analysis that: (1) Mounting VGs at the bottom surface of a side-view mirror reduces down force in most cases. (2) Setting underbody VGs at either the front or back edge of the mirror bottom surface has a slight effect on reducing drag force. (3) Multiple types of VGs show improved results with a 30 degree attack angle, which encourages future studies of VG applications with large attack angles.