Research on the Aerodynamic Characteristics of Tractor-Trailers with a Parametric Cab Design

Jing Peng, Tie Wang, Tiantian Yang, Xiuquan Sun, Guoxing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


As tractor-trailer ownership has increased year-by-year, corresponding energy consumption and environmental issues have gradually become a heated issue. Approximately 45 percent of the total aerodynamic drag of tractor-trailers is attributed to the flow at the front surface of the cab, and the gap between the cab and trailer. Therefore, this study has taken a new approach to designing the shape of the cab inspired by the external forebody of the cheetah. A parametric design protruding cab was devised in this study; the length of the protruding part and the angle between this protruding part and the A pillar were two design variables. Computational fluid dynamics simulation was conducted to investigate the drag reduction effects of these new cab styling designs, and the proposed cab reduced the drag by a maximum of 8.49%. The flow characteristics around the whole body of the tractor-trailer baseline model and the parametric cab design vehicle model were analyzed using the velocity streamline graph to illuminate the change of the flow field and the drag-reduction mechanism of the proposed design. A vortex formed above the protruding part of the cab and it acted as a 'vortex cushion' to accelerate the speed of the air flow; accordingly, the positive and negative pressure distribution on the front surface of the cab and trailer also changed. The new parametric design has provided the possibility to adjust the forebody of the cab to an aerodynamically optimized shape, and these findings have offered useful information for the development of a new design method of the tractor-trailer to reduce aerodynamic drag and improve fuel economy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number791
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


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