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The Determination of the Reference Dynamic

Pressure in Automotive Wind Tunnels


B. Nijhof, G. Wickern
Audi AG, Ingolstadt, Germany

ABSTRACT
Usually the reference dynamic pressure in wind tunnels is determined by
measurements of pressure differences at upstream positions at the wind tunnel
nozzle. For closed wall wind tunnels usually the so called nozzle method is used,
where the volume flux is calculated from a pressure difference measured at the
nozzle contour and a calibration factor determined in the empty test section. For
open jet wind tunnels a choice is available between nozzle and plenum method. For
the latter method, the second measuring position at the nozzle is replaced by a
measuring position in the plenum chamber. Again, an additional calibration factor is
necessary. A third possibility, which is typically used only in thermal wind tunnels, is
the measurement of a reference wind speed instead of a reference pressure
difference by a probe positioned in the nozzle exit.
In this paper, the definitions and the differences between the different methods are
discussed in detail. Possible sources of errors, such as velocity-dependent
calibration factors, interference with boundary layer suction and empty test section
velocity distribution are discussed. Special focus will be laid on the investigation of
the interference of model displacement (blockage) on measured dynamic pressure. It
will be shown, that local effects of the pressure build up in front of the model usually
do not affect the accuracy of the measured dynamic pressure.
Nevertheless model blockage does affect the measured aerodynamic forces as well
as the pressure distributions. A short discussion of the sources of errors and of
possible theoretical corrections to force coefficients and pressure distributions will be
given. In this case special focus will be laid on the influence of the distance between
model and nozzle in an open jet wind tunnel. The measured effect on the pressure
distribution of a vehicle will be analysed and it will be shown, that, without additional
corrections, neither nozzle nor plenum method deliver correct pressure distributions,
if the blockage level is high.

INTRODUCTION
In the literature known to the authors the determination of the reference dynamic
pressure is not treated in much detail. A possible reason is that the procedure to
determine the dynamic pressure is considered to be straight forward. In the standard
books on subsonic wind tunnels by Barlow, Rae and Pope [1] and Pankhurst and
Holder [2] the procedure is described primarily for closed wind tunnels. In the largely
referenced book on vehicle aerodynamics by Hucho [3] an alternate procedure for
the determination of the dynamic pressure in an open jet wind tunnel is described,
the so called plenum method. The method used in closed wall tunnels is called
nozzle method. Hucho refers to an SAE paper by Knstner et al. [4], where the
definitions and the differences between nozzle and plenum method are described in
detail.
An important additional feature of both methods is highlighted in the paper by
Knstner et al.. In the determination of the dynamic pressure the zero level of the
static pressure in the test section is also determined. This is especially true for the
nozzle method, where all pressures are referenced to the pressure in the settling
chamber. Only for the plenum method the pressure in the plenum chamber around
the test section is by definition the zero level for the static pressure.
In an ideal zero blockage wind tunnel both nozzle and plenum method will yield the
same results. Only in wind tunnels with significant blockage levels differences occur.
Therefore the discussion of blockage effects is an inherent feature of investigations
on the differences between nozzle and plenum method. The investigation is
complicated by the fact, that the treatment of blockage effects in automotive
applications is not completely settled (see Cooper [5], Lindener [6] and Wickern [7]).
A blockage correction applicable to results obtained using either the nozzle or
plenum method is offered by Mercker et al. [8]. An extension of the theory to include
the correction of measured pressure distributions seems possible, but has not yet
been proposed. The difference in the correction for the dynamic pressure between
the two methods can also be calculated by the theoretical approach proposed by
Wickern [7]. In this paper predictions calculated using Merckers proposal and using
Wickerns proposal will be compared to experimental results.
A major conclusion in the paper by Knstner et al. [4] is, that based on experimental
results, the pressure distribution in an open jet wind tunnel is only measured correctly
when using the nozzle method. This finding has to be revisited in the light of the
discussion on the different contributions to the blockage effect in open jet tunnels.
Mercker and Wiedemann [9] showed that there are at least four distinct parts in the
total blockage effect. All four parts can contribute to a local change in the static
pressure. Therefore it is expected, that both methods do not yield the same result
unless a correction is applied. Whether one method has an advantage over the other
and under which circumstances, has to be verified.
The effect of the pressure build-up in front of the model on the pressure taps used for
the measurement of the dynamic pressure in an open jet wind tunnel was
investigated by Kopp [10]. A significant influence dependent on model blockage and
on the distance between model and nozzle exit was found. It was not discussed in
[10], whether this is a general blockage effect or a local effect on single pressure
taps. In the second case, the measurement of the dynamic pressure would be
invalid. Therefore this question will be investigated in this paper using new
experimental data.

BASIC DEFINITIONS FOR NOZZLE AND PLENUM METHOD


Air speed determination in a wind tunnel test section is of great importance,
especially since it is used to non-dimensionalise forces, moments and pressures
acting on the model in the test section. A method for measuring the air velocity in an
empty test section would be to place a Pitot-static tube in the test section. The
difference in total and static pressure would yield the dynamic pressure from which
the velocity could be calculated:
q = p tot p

(1)

q = 2 U2

(2)

However, with a model present in the test section this method cannot be used since
the model induces changes into the air flow and therefore the local air velocity in the
test section.
A solution to this problem is to measure a pressure difference elsewhere in the tunnel
that would remain unaffected even with a model placed in the test section.
Commonly, the static pressure difference between two different positions in the wind
tunnel with varying cross sectional areas is measured. This pressure difference
would be related to the dynamic pressure in the empty test section by a tunnel factor
k. The dynamic pressure in the test section could then be calculated from the
pressure difference and the tunnel factor k, regardless whether a model is in the test
section or not.

q = (p1 p2 ) k

(3)

Ideally, the two positions in the tunnel where the static pressures are obtained should
not have any meshes or other obstructions in between them, which could cause
pressure losses.
Secondly, it would be preferable if the pressure difference would be of the same
order as the dynamic pressure.
Closed test sections
For closed test section wind tunnels the dynamic pressure is determined by
measuring the static pressure difference between the settling chamber A (Figure 1)
and a position near the nozzle end, i.e. somewhere between B and C. The static
pressure measured at A would be similar to the flows total pressure because of the
low flow velocity in the settling chamber. The static pressure at B or C would
approximately be the same as the static pressure of the flow in the test section.
This method of determining the wind velocity in the test section is called the nozzle
method.

( pSC pN ) k N

= q

(4)

1.8

1.6

Velocity close
to the wall

1.4

1.2
X in meter

0
-1 0

1
4

10

12 0.8

-2

0.6

-3

0.4

-4

0.2

-5

uwall /U

Z in meter

Figure 1: Velocity distribution in the nozzle


In Figure 1 the velocity profile is sketched and it can be seen that between B and C
an overshoot occurs. If possible the pressure should be measured in a plane where
the velocity is approximately equal to the velocity in the test section. This could be
either at B or C. However, since B is further away from the test object, the pressure
there is less prone to interference from the model. Therefore it would make more
sense to measure the static pressure at B.
For the nozzle method the tunnel factor k N strongly depends on the tap location. The
tunnel factor is often velocity dependent as well. This means that the static pressure
difference obtained between settling chamber and nozzle tap must be correlated to
the reference dynamic pressure over a range of different wind velocities to yield a
velocity dependent tunnel factor curve. This is usually done by a least square fit of a
higher order polynomial.
Open jet test sections
In wind tunnels with an open test section the nozzle method can also be used but
there is another method available. Instead of measuring the static pressure
difference between the settling chamber and the nozzle exit, the static pressure
difference between the settling chamber and the plenum chamber could be
measured. The static pressure in the settling chamber would be similar to the flows
total pressure and the static pressure in the plenum chamber would be the same as
the static pressure of the flow in the test section.
This method of determining the wind velocity in the test section is called the plenum
method.

( pSC pP ) k P

= q

(5)

For the plenum method the tunnel factor depends mainly on the contraction ratio.
Using the continuity equation

uSC ASC = u AN

(6)

and the energy equation

u2 + p = u2 + p
SC

2 SC
2

(7)

yields

pSC

A
p = 2 u 2 1 N
ASC

(8)

Combining Eqn. (8) with Eqn. (5) shows the dependency of k P on the contraction
ratio of the nozzle:

kP =

1
A
1 N
ASC

(9)

This theoretical tunnel factor is slightly modified by boundary layer effects in the
nozzle. To obtain exact values it is recommended to determine the tunnel factor
experimentally by a similar approach as for the nozzle method.
Another method to determine the velocity in the wind tunnel is not through a pressure
difference between two different locations in the tunnel but to directly measure the
velocity at a certain point in the test section. This can be done with various types of
probes like turning vane anemometers, Pitot-static tubes or hot wire anemometers.
The chosen position in which they are placed can have a large effect on the velocity,
especially when blockage is large.
For closed test sections, placing the probe near the nozzle end will result in a
behaviour similar to that of the nozzle method. The probe can also be placed near
the model to obtain a different flow velocity behaviour. However, near the model the
pressure gradient is usually large and a small change in the lateral position of the
model or the model size could cause large changes in wind velocity.
For example, a probe in the roof of the test section near the model might produce the
desired velocity for a particular size of model. However, if a model of different size
was introduced into the tunnel or large changes were made to the model, the
pressure distribution might change resulting in a different velocity. It is clear how
susceptible to errors this method is.
In an open test section, placing the probe near the jet boundary will result in
behaviour similar to the plenum method and placing the probe in the nozzle will
cause the same effects as the nozzle method. A position could be found in the test
section so that the result would be something between the plenum and the nozzle
method, but again the behaviour at this position would be very dependant on model
position.

NOZZLE METHOD vs. PLENUM METHOD


Many discussions and papers have been written which of the two methods is the
correct one. In fact, neither of them is more correct than the other, they both have
their individual disadvantages.
As explained in the section above, both methods use a pressure difference to
determine the wind velocity. However, the nozzle method uses the pressure
difference between two points in the tunnel whereas the plenum method uses the
pressure difference between a point in the tunnel and a point in the plenum chamber
(i.e. outside the tunnel). This difference results in different flow characteristics that
are kept constant. In case of the nozzle method the volume flux or the average flow
velocity is kept constant. For the plenum method the flow velocity at the jet boundary
is kept constant. As long as the test section is empty, both methods should produce
the same velocity in the test section, i.e. the air velocity at the jet boundary is equal to
the average flow velocity.
With a model in the test section, the two methods produce different results. Two
things occur when a model is inserted into the test section. Due to the blockage the
volume flux is decreased and the pressure is increased.
The following example will be used to explain what occurs to the static pressure in a
Gttingen type wind tunnel when a model is inserted into the open test section. In
this example the plenum chamber is connected to the atmosphere. Also the
difference between the nozzle and plenum methods will be explained. Bar graphs will
be used to show the static pressure at different positions in the tunnel.
The nozzle method
Figure 2 shows the static pressures at the settling chamber and the nozzle exit,
which are used to determine the dynamic pressure using the nozzle method. The
grey areas indicate the static pressures at these two locations for a certain wind
velocity when the test section is empty. This pressure difference between these two
positions in the tunnel together with the tunnel factor is then used to obtain the
reference dynamic pressure.

(p

SC ,1

p N ,1 ) k N = q

(10)

When a model is then inserted into the tunnel at constant fan speed the overall
pressure in the wind tunnel rises as indicated by the white areas.
The pressure in the settling chamber rises from psc ,1 to psc,2 and the static pressure in
at the nozzle exit rises from p N,1 to p N,2.
However, due to the reduced volume flux the pressure difference is now smaller than
when the test section was empty (the static pressure in the settling chamber has
risen less than the static pressure at the nozzle exit as indicated by the smaller white
area).
pSC,2 pN ,2 < pSC ,1 p N,1

(11)

PSC,3
PSC,2
PSC,1

PN,3
PN,2
PN,1

Settling

Nozzle

Figure 2: Static pressure in the settling chamber and nozzle exit


This smaller pressure difference results in a smaller dynamic pressure q ,2.

(p

SC , 2

p N,2 ) k N = q ,2 < q ,1

(12)

To obtain the same dynamic pressure as in the empty test section the pressure
difference between the settling chamber and the nozzle exit has to be increased.
This can be done by increasing the flow velocity so that the settling chamber static
pressure rises from psc ,2 to psc,3 and the static pressure at the nozzle exit rises from
pN ,2 to p N,3 so that
pSC,3 pN ,3 = pSC ,1 pN,1

(13)

This is indicated by the black areas. The dynamic pressure is then:


( pSC ,3 pN ,2 ) k N = ( pSC ,1 p N,1 ) k N = q ,1

(14)

From the above it can be seen that the nozzle method, by keeping the volume flux
constant, even with varying blockage, results in an overall pressure rise in the wind
tunnel. This fact is important when looking at reference pressures, which will be
discussed in a later section of this paper.
The plenum method
Figure 3 shows the static pressures in the settling chamber and the plenum chamber,
which are required to determine the dynamic pressure when using the plenum
method. Again the grey areas indicate the static pressures at these two locations for
a certain wind velocity when the test section is empty. This pressure difference
between these two positions in the tunnel together with the tunnel factor is then used

PSC,2
PSC,1

PP

Settling

Plenum

Figure 3: Static pressure in the settling chamber and plenum chamber


to obtain the reference dynamic pressure.

(p

SC ,1

p P ) k P = q ,1

(15)

When a model is then inserted into the tunnel at constant fan speed the overall
pressure in the wind tunnel rises as indicated by the white area. In the plenum
chamber this rise in pressure is not noticed because the static pressure is always
equal to the atmospheric pressure if it is connected to the atmosphere.
The pressure difference has therefore increased resulting in a larger dynamic
pressure.

(p

SC ,2

p P,1 ) k P = q ,2 > q,1

(16)

To obtain the same dynamic pressure as in the empty test section the static pressure
in the settling chamber has to be decreased to equal the static pressure when the
tunnel was empty. The pressure decrease can be obtained by decreasing the wind
velocity in the wind tunnel.
Even though in the above example the plenum is connected to the atmosphere, this
does not necessarily need to be so for the plenum method to be correct. Wind
tunnels exist where there is no connection to the atmosphere or the connection is
elsewhere in the tunnel. The point is that when using the plenum method, the
pressure difference between the plenum and the settling chamber is kept constant,
no matter what the absolute values of the pressure at these two positions.
What happens to the flow at the nozzle exit? When the test section is empty the flow
velocity equals U and the velocity profile is relatively straight (Figure 4). When a

model is inserted into the test section the flow velocity in front of the model is
decreased. This is shown in the Figure 4 as a curved velocity profile.
U
empty test section
nozzle method
plenum method
nozzle
exit plane

nozzle
Figure 4: Velocity profile at nozzle exit seen from above
The nozzle method keeps the average flow velocity constant leading to a flow
velocity that is less than U in front of the vehicle but greater than U at the jet
boundary.
This is not the case for the plenum method where the flow velocity at the jet
boundary is kept constant, i.e. U. The average flow velocity in this case is less than
U.
Using the plenum method instead of the nozzle method results in a lower true
velocity in the test section. This in turn results in lower forces and higher pressures
measured on the model from which follows that force coefficients measured using the
plenum method will have lower values and pressure coefficients will have higher
values than those measured using the nozzle method.
REFERENCE STATIC PRESSURE
To determine the pressure coefficient not only the dynamic pressure q in the test
section but also the static pressure of the undisturbed flow p in the test section is
required.

cp =

p p
q

(17)

Again a Pitot-static tube could be used to obtain the static pressure in the empty test
section but when a model is inserted into the test section the measured static
pressure would be incorrect due to the changes in the flow induced by the model. A
reference pressure is required that is related to the static pressure in the undisturbed
flow.

The nozzle method


The first possibility is to measure the total pressure in front of the model, subtract the
reference dynamic pressure obtained from either the plenum or nozzle method and
the result is the reference static pressure in the test section. However, this is not
always practical, especially if the model is not equipped with a total pressure probe.
The total pressure can equally well be determined upstream of the model in the
settling chamber. This is possible since the nozzle accelerates the flow ideally
without any friction losses. The measurement of the total pressure in the settling
chamber is usually replaced by a measurement of the static pressure in the settling
chamber. The measurement instrumentation is much easier in this case and errors
due to local flows in the settling chamber can be avoided. This method is typically
used in closed test section wind tunnels. The static pressure in the settling chamber
is used as the reference pressure. However, this static pressure is not exactly the
same as the total pressure. Consequently an offset is required which can be
calculated using the dynamic pressure in the test section. The dynamic pressures in
the settling chamber and in the test section are related through the contraction of the
nozzle. The static pressure in the empty test section can be determined using the
static pressure in the settling chamber.

p p p ptot
=
+1
q
q
p ( pSC + qSC ) q p pSC q qSC
=
+
=
+
q
q
q
q
p pSC pSC p
=
+
q
q
cp =

(18)

(19)

Substituting (5) into the last term, where p P equals p 8 , results in

cp =

p pSC
1
+
q
kP

(20)

At first sight it is confusing, that the tunnel factor for the plenum method now occurs
in the determination of the reference pressure level for the nozzle method. But k P is
just a quantity relating dynamic and static pressures in a duct with changing cross
section.
In closed wall wind tunnels q has to be corrected for blockage effects of the model.
By using this correction the zero level for the static pressure in the test section can
be significantly lowered. Thus the zero level depends on the type and quality of the
blockage correction used.
The plenum method
The second possibility is to use the pressure in the plenum chamber as the reference
pressure. Ideally this pressure is the same as the static pressure in the undisturbed

low. The plenum pressure is usually also the same as the atmospheric pressure
since often the plenum chamber is connected to the air outside the building.
pref = p ,P = patm

(21)

To avoid errors when calculating pressure coefficients the respective reference static
pressures should be used with either the nozzle or plenum methods.
This is not critical when using the plenum method. Regardless of blockage the flow
velocity at the jet boundary remains constant. This is also true for the flows static
pressure, which equals the static pressure in the plenum chamber. The flow velocity
obtained when using the plenum method is related to the static pressure in the
plenum.
This is not the case for the nozzle method. With increasing blockage the flows static
pressure increases. This is indicated by Figure 2 where it can be seen that the static
pressure at the nozzle exit increases from PN,1 to P N,3 when a model is inserted into
the test section. The plenum chamber pressure cannot be used as the reference
static pressure because it remains the same regardless of blockage. The reference
static pressure given would be too low. However, the pressure in the settling
chamber does notice any rise in pressure and would therefore be suitable as a
reference static pressure. Figure 2 shows that when inserting a model in the test
section the pressure in the settling chamber rises accordingly from PSC,1 to PSC,3 . The
static pressure in the settling chamber is related to the flow velocity obtained when
using the nozzle method. Therefore, when using the nozzle method to determine
wind velocity, the reference static pressure must be obtained using the static
pressure in the settling chamber.
When probes are used that do not use pressure to determine wind speed, the
reference static pressure must be obtained elsewhere. Either the plenum or settling
chamber static pressure could be used. Whether one or the other should be
preferred will discussed in a later section at hand of experimental results for the
pressure distribution of a vehicle.
POSSIBLE SOURCES FOR ERRORS IN THE DETERMINATION OF THE
REFERENCE DYNAMIC AND STATIC PRESSURE
The determination of the two reference pressures is generally influenced by blockage
effects, which are of course dependent on the details of the individual tunnel design.
In addition there are a number of possible errors not related to tunnel blockage. In
the first section these errors will be treated and in a second section some results on
the influence of blockage will be discussed.
Non-blockage-related errors
The determination of q from measurements in the settling chamber and the nozzle is
a comparably simple measurement task. Nonetheless a number of errors are
possible.
To obtain proper basic data, of course the pressure taps in the walls of settling
chamber and nozzle should be manufactured properly and according to the common
design rules (see for example Barlow, Rae and Pope [1]). Usually a large number of

pressure taps are connected to become independent from local flow disturbances.
For practical reasons they are linked to a single pressure transducer. The tubing
between the taps and the transducer should be properly sealed and checked by
increasing the pressure in the tubing and inspecting for leaks.
The taps are usually located on a plane intersecting the settling chamber or nozzle
normal to the flow direction in order to have approximately the same pressure level at
each tap. In wind tunnels for aircraft, the taps can be distributed on all four tunnel
sides. In tunnels used for ground vehicles, only the ceiling and the side walls should
be used. In this case the pressure build up in front of the model protrudes further
forwards along the bottom. Pressure taps in the floor should not be used in this case.
A potential error could occur when one of the pressure taps in the rings in the nozzle
or settling chamber is blocked. If the nozzles height and width differ, then the
pressure measured at the pressure taps on the ceiling and floor are not the same as
on the walls. If the pressure tap is blocked before obtaining the tunnel factor this is
usually not a problem because the nozzle and plenum methods are based on
reproducing the pressure difference and multiplying it by the tunnel factor to obtain
the reference dynamic pressure. If one of the pressure taps is blocked after obtaining
the tunnel factor however, then the pressure in the ring is changed and a false
dynamic pressure would be reproduced.
Having measured the static pressures correctly, the remaining task is to determine a
correct calibration factor to calculate the dynamic pressure from this.
Velocity dependence of the tunnel factor
5000
4500

Dynamic pressure [Pa]

4000
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500
Nozzle ring 1
Nozzle ring 2
Nozzle ring 3
Plenum

1000
500
0
0

1000

2000
3000
4000
Pressure difference [Pa]

5000

Figure 5: Tunnel factors for nozzle rings 1 to 3 and plenum ring

6000

A common problem to both the plenum and nozzle methods involves the tunnel
factor and the manner in which this factor is acquired. To determine this factor the
relation between the dynamic pressure in the empty test section and the static
pressure difference must be compared over a range of different wind speeds (Figure
5).
The result is a set of points through which a curve can be drawn. Although the curve
at a first look appears to be a straight line, there are some effects of boundary layer
growth. The effects become obvious, if the tunnel factor versus the tunnel speed is
plotted (see Figure 6). To obtain the required accuracy a polynomial fit of the curve is
necessary.
1.06
1.04
1.02

q/Delta P

Nozzle polynomial
0.98

Nozzle exp. data points

0.96

Plenum polynomial
Plenum exp. data points

0.94
0.92
0.9
0.88
50

100

150
200
Velocity [km/h]

250

300

Figure 6: Tunnel factors for nozzle and plenum methods


Influence of boundary layer control on the tunnel factor
If boundary layer control by suction or blowing is used, this usually affects the tunnel
calibration. Especially when using the nozzle method this can result in significant
errors. The nozzle method tries to keep the volume flux constant. If the volume flux is
modified by additional in- or outlets close to the nozzle exit, this is no longer the case.
Therefore an independent calibration is necessary for the cases with and without
boundary layer control. For every modification on the boundary layer control system
a new calibration is necessary.
In Figure 7 the calibration data from the Audi aeroacoustic wind tunnel is shown. In
the case with boundary layer suction for every wind speed the appropriate suction
rate was applied. It can be seen, that by the boundary layer suction, the tunnel factor
is reduced. This corresponds to the reduced volume flux in the test section.

0.93
0.92
0.91

q/Delta P

0.9
0.89
0.88

No BLS polynomial
0.87

No BLS exp. data points


BLS polynomial

0.86

BLS exp. data points

0.85
50

100

150
200
Velocity [km/h]

250

300

Figure 7: Tunnel factors with and without boundary layer suction


0.91
0.905
0.9

q/Delta P

0.895
0.89
0.885
0.88

1:1 polynomial

0.875

1:1 exp. data points

0.87

Model polynomial

0.865

Model exp. data points

0.86
50

100

150
200
Velocity [km/h]

250

Figure 8: Influence of calibration position on tunnel factor

300

Influence of the calibration position on the tunnel factor


In case of a closed test section the position of the Pitot-static tube in the empty test
section is important when determining the tunnel factor. Boundary layer growth along
the walls of the test section cause a reduction in the effective cross section of the test
section resulting in an acceleration of air velocity from the nozzle towards the
collector. Thus the Pitot-static tube is sensitive to its position in the test section.The
effect of the calibration position is much less important in open jet wind tunnels.
Nevertheless some minor effects of the position in the jet are possible. In the Audi
aeroacoustic wind tunnel there is a second model position for the testing of scale
models. This model position is significantly closer to the nozzle and to the boundary
layer control. Therefore an independent calibration was carried out. The results
(given in Figure 8) show some minor differences for smaller velocities and for very
high velocities). In the usual testing range for scale model from 100 km/h to 270 km/h
practical no difference exists.
Blockage-related errors
The blockage related errors can not be avoided by performing a careful
measurement, they can however be minimized by choosing a suitable wind tunnel
design. In certain cases a theoretical (or experimentally derived) blockage correction
is necessary in order to make reliable wind tunnel measurements without the need of
wind tunnels with extremely large dimensions. For example, closed wall wind tunnels
practically can not be operated without such a correction to the measured dynamic
pressure. For open jet wind tunnels such blockage corrections are typically not
applied. One reason for this is that open jet tunnels are less sensitive to blockage
than closed wall tunnels. The other, more important reason is that open jet tunnels
are typically tuned to measure comparable data to other wind tunnels. This can be
done by suitable selection of nozzle and collector dimensions, test section length and
position of the model in the test section.
In order not to revisit all the literature written on blockage in closed test sections, this
paper will concentrate on blockage effects in open jet tunnels. The focus will be on
problems, where it was unclear, whether it is a blockage problem or a problem of
proper measurement.
Nozzle blockage effect on determination of dynamic pressure
The first of these could be the influence of the model on the pressure ring or taps at
the nozzle exit. If the model is too close to the nozzle exit or to be more specific, the
pressure taps, the pressure build up in front of the model could influence the
pressure measured by these pressure taps. This is of course more of a problem
when using the nozzle method. The plenum method uses only a pressure ring in the
settling chamber, which should not be influenced by any type of blockage.
If the model is large enough or near enough to the nozzle exit plane, the stagnation
area in front of the model will reach into the nozzle. This causes the flow at the walls
and the roof of the nozzle to accelerate. The larger this effect, the larger the
difference between the plenum and nozzle method.

Also, if this effect reaches into the plane where the pressure taps used for the nozzle
method are, then the flow velocity past the pressure taps, which are typically only on
the walls and the ceiling of the tunnel, will also be higher, resulting in a lower
pressure measured at the taps. This in turn increases the measured pressure
difference. To keep the flow velocity in the test section constant, the pressure
difference must be reduced, resulting in a reduced true flow velocity in the test
section. The whole measurement would be invalid in this case, because an
influenced pressure tap can not be corrected for. Therefore it is important to
differentiate between blockage effects and influenced pressure tap or pressure ring.
To do this, an experiment was carried out in the Audi aeroacoustic wind tunnel. In
this tunnel three different pressure rings at different distances from the nozzle exit
are available for the nozzle method. Parallel to these, measurements with the plenum
method can be done. Two sets of test were done using a small sedan and a van
(Figure 9). They were moved towards the nozzle to induce blockage effect. The wind
velocity was determined using both the nozzle and plenum method. In case of the
nozzle method, all three pressure rings were used simultaneously to measure the
wind speed. The graph shows the ratio between the two methods against the
distance of the vehicle from the nozzle exit.
First, it can be seen that q N/q P increases as the vehicles are moved towards the
nozzle. This effect is larger with the van. This confirms that as blockage increases,
the difference between the plenum and nozzle method increases due to the different
methods in determining wind velocity.
1.4

sedan; ring 1
sedan; ring 2
sedan; ring 3
van; ring 1
van; ring 2
van; ring 3

1.35
1.3

qN/q P

1.25
1.2
1.15
1.1
1.05
1
2

2.5

3.5
4
Distance to nozzle [m]

4.5

5.5

Figure 9: Influence of model position on nozzle blockage


Secondly, it can be seen that the three pressure rings give the same result and
continue to do so even when the vehicles distance to the nozzle decreases. In the

forward most position the vehicles were already entering the nozzle exit plane. This
indicates that the vehicles do not influence the pressure rings. If local effects at the
pressure rings would be important, the ring closest to the nozzle exit should be
influenced first and the ring with the largest distance last. Since there is no
difference between the three rings, it can be concluded that all three rings are still
able to deliver a pressure difference proportional to the volume flux. The measured
differences between q P and q N are entirely due to blockage effects at the nozzle.
For the correction of nozzle blockage two different theoretical models were proposed
by Mercker et al. [8] and by Wickern [7]. The blockage models will not be discussed
in detail here. Both models are able to predict the difference between nozzle and
plenum method as a function of blockage ratio, geometry of the model and position of
the model in the test section. The results of the predicted difference are compared to
the experimental results in Figure 10. Both methods describe the rising difference
between the two approaches for decreasing distance to the nozzle reasonably well. A
general blockage correction therefore seems not completely hopeless.
1.4

Exp. sedan
Exp. van

1.35

Wickern correction; sedan


1.3

Wickern correction; van


Mercker et al. correction; sedan

qN/qP

1.25

Mercker et al. correction; van

1.2
1.15
1.1
1.05
1
2

5
6
Distance to nozzle [m]

Figure 10: Experimental and theoretical nozzle blockage


Reference Static Pressure
The reference static pressure is of primary importance for the measurement of the
pressure distribution at the model. In closed wind tunnels the reference static
pressure is highly blockage dependent. The blockage corrected dynamic pressure is
subtracted from the measured total pressure to obtain the reference static pressure.
The only blockage independent pressure at the model is at the stagnation point,
where the pressure is identical to the total pressure. Only with a valid blockage

correction a blockage independent zero level is obtained. Thus only then a blockage
independent CP-distribution at the model can be measured. For the discussion of
blockage correction in closed wind tunnels the reader is again referred to the
standard books on the topic [1,2, 5].
In open jet wind tunnels a similar strong influence of blockage is to be expected. If
the nozzle method is used, the only blockage independent pressure is again in the
stagnation point. If the plenum method is used, the reference static pressure does
not depend on model blockage, since the plenum pressure is used. Nevertheless this
does not mean that there is no blockage effect for the pressures measured at the
model surface. As discussed by Mercker and Wiedemann [9], the drag of a vehicle in
an open jet wind tunnel is affected by at least four different contributions, namely
nozzle blockage, jet blockage, collector blockage and horizontal buoyancy. All four
are to be expected to influence the pressure distribution as well. This is of course
true for both methods available, nozzle and plenum method.
In order to provide experimental basic data for a first judgement on possible blockage
effects, the pressure distribution of the calibration car (geometry see Fig. 11) was
measured in the Audi Aeroacoustic wind tunnel. To vary the influence of blockage,
the car was moved longitudinally along the test section. In the most forward position
the bumper of the car was in the nozzle exit plane, the rearmost position was at the
standard measurement position (middle of the turntable, see also Fig. 12).
In Fig. 13 the results are plotted for the nozzle method and in Fig. 14 for the plenum
method. Pressure tap #1 is on the hood, tap #59 on the rear bumper and tap #60 to
#64 on the front bumper. When the model is moved towards the nozzle, it
increasingly blocks the flow coming out of the nozzle. The nozzle method keeps the
average flow constant causing the flow over the model to increase as the model
nears the nozzle. The plenum method on the other hand keeps the flow at the jet
boundary constant. This results in a more constant flow over the model. This effect
was mentioned in the experiment above, i.e. the increasing qN/q P.
Figure 13 clearly shows that when using the nozzle method, moving the car closer to
the nozzle causes the C p-values to drop. A linear tendency can be detected whereby
the difference becomes less at Cp-highs and the difference becomes exaggerated at
Cp-lows. The decrease in C p-values is also greater at the centre of the model than at
the front or the rear. This is because of the larger increase in local velocity at the
centre of the car compared to the smaller increase in local velocity at the front or rear
of the car.
Two effects take place as the car is moved closer to the nozzle.
Firstly, the true flow velocity over the car increases resulting in higher forces and
lower pressures acting on the model. This results in higher force coefficients and
lower pressure coefficients. This effect is explained in the section Nozzle method vs.
Plenum method.
However, when determining the pressure coefficient another variable is of
importance, the reference static pressure. When using the nozzle method, this
reference static pressure is calculated from the static pressure in the settling
chamber (Eq. 20). When the car is moved towards the nozzle, blockage is increased
and so is the static pressure in the settling chamber, resulting in a higher reference
static pressure. This is the second effect.

This means that when the car is moved towards the nozzle, the pressure coefficient
is reduced due to lower measured pressures and an increased reference static
pressure.
Figure 14 shows what happens to the Cp-values when the car is moved towards the
nozzle in case the plenum method is used. Only when the car comes very near to the
nozzle, is there a detectable change in the C p-values. Instead of decreasing however,
the C p-values increase. An exponential tendency can be detected whereby again the
difference becomes less at Cp-highs and the difference becomes exaggerated at Cplows. As the car is moved towards the nozzle, the greatest change in Cp-values
occurs at the front of the car, contrary to when using the nozzle method. This is
because the greatest change (decrease) in local flow velocity, when using the
plenum method, happens at the front of the model whereas the flow at the centre of
the car is kept relatively constant as the car is moved towards the nozzle.
The plenum method causes a much smaller change in Cp-value because the flow
velocity over the model is kept more constant. Also the reference pressure used to
calculate the Cp-value remains the same, regardless of the position of the model in
the test section. This because the reference pressure is the static pressure in the
plenum chamber and remains constant at all times. Therefore the only effect that
causes the increase in C p-values is the first effect which occurs in the opposite sense
and not as strongly as with the nozzle method.
What can be concluded from the above is that the plenum method is less sensitive to
placement of the model in the test section.
In order to show the dependency of cp at certain positions in more detail, the results
of Fig. 13 and 14 can be plotted in a different way. In Fig. 15 cp at the end of the trunk
lid (tap #53), which is essentially the base pressure, is plotted versus the vehicle
position relative to the nozzle. The plenum method results show only a weak
dependency, whereas the nozzle method results show a stronger influence. For the
nozzle method the effect has not completely decayed at the standard measuring
position of the Audi wind tunnel. A similar result is found for cp on the front hood,
close to the position where cp crosses the zero level (tap #9, plotted in Fig. 16). Again
the plenum results are less affected by the distance to the nozzle, and the effect
seems to have decayed completely at the standard position.
When using probes, such as hot wire anemometers or turning vane anemometers to
determine the wind velocity, the reference static pressure cannot be obtained by
these probes. The static reference pressure could be obtained from the settling
chamber or the plenum chamber. The latter would be the preferable option since the
pressure in the plenum chamber remains constant and the Cp-values would be less
sensitive to placement of the model in the test section.

23 2 4 2 5

12 1 3
8 9 1 01 1
5 6 7
4
2 3

14
15

16

17

18

19

21
22
20

2 6 27 282 9 303 1 3 23 33 43 5 3 63 7 3 8 39
4 041
42

43

44

45

46

47

48

49 51
53
50
52
54
55

1
60
61
62
63

56
57
58
59

64

Figure 11: Pressure tap distribution on the calibration car

Collector
4m

Nozzle

-2 m

Figure 12: Front- and rearmost vehicle position in the test section

Nozzle Method

1.0

0.5
Pressure tap
Cp

0.0
1

9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63

-0.5

-1.0

0.0 m
-0.4 m
-0.8 m
-1.2 m
-1.6 m
-2.0 m

-1.5

-2.0
Figure 13: Pressure distribution along the surface of a car

Plenum Method

1.0

0.5
Pressure tap
Cp

0.0
1

9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35 37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 63

-0.5

-1.0

0.0 m
-0.4 m
-0.8 m
-1.2 m
-1.6 m
-2.0 m

-1.5

-2.0
Figure 14: Pressure distribution along the surface of a car

0.05

Cp

Distance from centre turn table [m]


0
-2.5

-2.0

-1.5

-1.0

-0.5

0.0

-0.05

-0.1

-0.15
Plenum method
Nozzle method

-0.2

Figure 15: Pressure at the boot lid of the car (tap # 53) as a function of the
distance to the nozzle (origin at centre of turn table, 4 m from nozzle exit)

Cp

0.05

0
-2.5

-2.0
-1.5
-1.0
Distance from centre turn table [m]

-0.5

0.0

-0.05

-0.1

-0.15

-0.2

Plenum method
Nozzle method

Figure 16: Pressure on the front hood of the car (tap # 9) as a function of the
distance to the nozzle (origin at centre of turn table, 4 m from nozzle exit)

The results discussed above allow of course only a judgement on the effect of
nozzle blockage. The influence of jet blockage, collector blockage and
horizontal buoyancy are also always present. Collector blockage and
horizontal buoyancy could be investigated by more rearward positions in the
test section, whereas jet blockage can be influenced by different model or test
section sizes. The effects of the three other contributions possibly biased the
judgement in Knstner et al. [4] towards the nozzle method. As can be seen in
Fig. 15, the base pressure is approximately linearly dependent on the distance
to the nozzle, at least for the range in question. If the base pressure is
increased due to other blockage effects, as expected from jet blockage and
horizontal buoyancy, the effect of nozzle blockage can be used to tune the
base pressure back to the correct level. A similar approach is used to tune
small open jet tunnel drag coefficients to the correct level, as discussed in
Wickern and Lindener [11]. Therefore the better match between on road data
and large and small wind tunnel data partly was by coincidence.
At this point a comment on road data seems necessary. For on road data the
question of a proper reference static pressure is a question as unresolved as
the blockage problem. Any reference determined by a wind tunnel test
contains all the errors of the specific wind tunnel as discussed in the paper.
Any attempt to position a probe outside the pressure field of the vehicle can
not achieve a level better then the usual wind tunnel simulation without using
additional corrections (theoretical or experimentally derived). Even 10 m
above the vehicle the reference pressure is not free of the influence of the
vehicle to the required accuracy. Already at this distance significant effects of
changing ambient conditions are expected due to natural wind. On road
measurements of the correct base pressure is expected to be as difficult as
the on road measurement of the correct drag coefficient.
The pressure distribution for on road measurements of course also contain
the influence of the moving ground, which is typically only partially simulated
in a wind tunnel. This makes the comparison between wind tunnel and on
road results even more complicated.
CONCLUSIONS
The focus of the paper was to revisit the basic definitions for the different
reference pressures used in automotive wind tunnels. Basically, two different
ways to define the dynamic pressure in the test section (and the adjacent
static pressure) are available: the nozzle method, where all conditions are
related to the situation in the settling chamber, and the plenum method, where
the reference conditions are defined in the plenum chamber. In ideal zero
blockage situations both methods deliver identical results, but major
differences emerge under high blockage conditions. Therefore sources of
error are qualified whether they are blockage related or not.
A number of non-blockage related sources of error are discussed, such as the
velocity dependence of tunnel factors, the interaction with boundary layer
conditioning systems and local empty tunnel velocity differences. Usually
these errors can be ruled out by reasonable technical efforts. The often
discussed effect of the pressure build up in front of the model on local
pressure taps is shown to be a general blockage effect, which does not
depend on the position of the pressure taps.

The second, blockage related class of errors is far less under control. At hand
of new experimental data it is shown, that both nozzle and plenum method
define reference conditions, which at high blockage need additional wind
tunnel corrections to make the results comparable to results in infinite flow.
In contradiction to older investigations, the plenum method seems to be less
liable to nozzle blockage effects than the nozzle method. It is less sensitive to
the position of the vehicle relative to the nozzle and should therefore be
preferred for measurements of practical interest, as for example pressure
distributions at cooling air inlets or measurements of wind loads on vehicle
parts.
If it is intended to judge the validity of force measurements in a wind tunnel,
cP-measurements are not well suited, independent of the method used. The
measured c P-values are blockage dependent to a similar extend as the
measured forces are.
Blockage corrections are not treated in the paper. Although considerable effort
has been spent in the past on working out correction schemes for automotive
applications, this remains at least from the viewpoint of the authors an
unresolved item, especially for open jet wind tunnels.
LITERATURE
1. BARLOW, J.B., RAE, W.H. and POPE, A.: Low-Speed Wind Tunnel
Testing, John Wiley & Sons, New York, (1999)
2. PANKHURST, R.C. and HOLDER, D. W.: Wind tunnel technique, Pitman,
London (1965)
3. HUCHO, W.-H.: Aerodynamics of Road Vehicles, 4th Edition, SAE, Detroit,
(1998)
4. KNSTNER, R., DEUTENBACH, K.-R. and VAGT, J.-D.: Measurement of
Reference Dynamic Pressure in Open-Jet Automotive Wind Tunnels. SAE
Technical Paper 920344, (1992)
5. COOPER, K.R. (ed.): Closed-test-section wind tunnel blockage corrections
for road vehicles, SAE SP-1176, Warrendale, (1996)
6. LINDENER, N. (ed.): open jet-test-section wind tunnel blockage
corrections for road vehicles, SAE SP-1176, Warrendale, (1996)
7. WICKERN, G.: On the Application of Classical Wind Tunnel Corrections
for Automotive Bodies, SAE Technical Paper 2001-01-0633, Detroit,
(2000)
8. MERCKER, E., WICKERN, G. and WIEDEMANN, J.: Contemplation of
nozzle blockage in open jet wind tunnel in view of different q
determination techniques, SAE Technical Paper 970136, Detroit, (1997)
9. MERCKER, E. and WIEDEMANN, J.: On the Correction of Interference
Effects in Open Jet Wind Tunnel, SAE Technical Paper 960671, Detroit,
(1996)

10. KOPP, S.: Experimentelle und theoretische Untersuchungen im Hinblick


auf
eine
Blockierungskorrektur
fr
Automobilwindkanle
mit
Freistrahlmestrecke. Diplomarbeit am Lehrstuhl fr Fluidmechanik
(Experimental and Theoretical Investigations with Respect to a Blockage
Correction for Automotive Wind Tunnels with Open Jet Test Section)), TU
Mnchen, (1997)
11. Wickern, G. and Lindener, N.: The Audi Aeroacoustic Wind Tunnel: Final
Design and First Operational Experience, SAE 2000-01-0868, (2000)
NOMENCLATURE
AN
ASC
CP
k
kN
kP
p
patm
pN
pP
pSC
ptot
p
q
uSC
U

nozzle exit cross section


settling chamber cross section
pressure coefficient
tunnel factor
tunnel factor when using the nozzle method
tunnel factor when using the plenum method
pressure
atmospheric pressure
static pressure at the nozzle exit
static pressure in the plenum chamber
static pressure in the settling chamber
total pressure
undisturbed static pressure
undisturbed dynamic pressure
wind velocity in the settling chamber
undisturbed wind velocity
air density