Premier Honda wind tunnel advances key Ohio State aerodynamics research

Posted: April 21, 2022
Red Honda SUV in a wind tunnel surrounded by microphones

Sleek and with wind speeds topping 190 mph, Honda recently unveiled a world-class facility – the Honda Automotive Laboratories of Ohio (HALO) wind tunnel – marking a new era in aerodynamics research opportunities for The Ohio State University. Through a strategic partnership agreement, Ohio State and Honda Development and Manufacturing of America, LLC (HDMA) have already begun engaging in multiple projects revolving around the new wind tunnel.

According to a March 21 announcement, the facility, located at the independent Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC) in central Ohio, is one of the world's most advanced wind tunnels, with three separate state-of-the art testing functions in one location: aerodynamics, aeroacoustics and racing.

“With the new HALO wind tunnel, and high demand by Honda for long-term improvement of vehicle aerodynamics and acoustics, we, The Ohio State University, are in a unique position to connect fundamental and applied automotive research and help Honda execute its long-term research strategy,” said Associate Professor Lian Duan, Ohio State College of Engineering Honda Chair in Transportation.

Duan was recruited to Ohio State in 2019 to lead joint aerodynamic research efforts with Honda as the first Honda Chair in Transportation. The distinguished position was established as a result of an endowment made from HDMA.

“The goal of the Honda Chair is to bridge the necessary gap between fundamental and applied research of mutual interest to Honda and Ohio State, as well as to help strengthen the partnership between TRC and Honda by utilizing the HALO facilities for automotive research,” Duan shared.

A man standing in front of a wall-mounted monitor displaying a simulation image
High resolution outputs from the HALO wind tunnel assist Duan (pictured) and his team with their research.

Along with his team in the Computational Aerodynamics and Flow Physics Lab (CAFPLab), he collaborates with Honda’s Auto Development Center to investigate solutions for a wide range of aerodynamics and aeroacoustics challenges as the latest expansion of the strategic Honda-Ohio State Partnership.

“Projects include, but are not limited to, bluff body and wheel wake aerodynamics, greenhouse noise, and window and sunroof wind buffeting,” Duan said.

“These collaborative projects will be centered on and supported by the new world-class HALO wind tunnel and will contribute to the fuel efficiency and passenger comfort of Honda’s next-generation vehicles.”

Some studies utilizing the new facility are already underway. CAFPLab members divide their time between the HALO wind tunnel and their headquarters at Ohio State’s Aerospace Research Center, where their simulation lab is located.

A man standing in front of the HALO wind tunnel
Ohio State Research Scientist Kevin Disotell in front of the test section nozzle at the HALO wind tunnel.

Research Scientist Kevin Disotell, PhD, commented on the synergy resulting from the partnership and facility. “Bringing simulations, theory and measurements together under the same roof tends to give the strongest understanding of problems,” he explained. “Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses, and each one is specialized to the point where one person cannot do it all with the same level of quality. While Professor Duan oversees the simulations, I focus on the detailed wind tunnel measurements. Each tool can best help the other this way.”

The collaboration also provides unparalleled opportunities for student research. Under the guidance of Duan and Disotell, graduate students and advanced undergraduates study a broad array of aerodynamic and aeroacoustics topics in ground and flight vehicles.

Duan predicts that the highly advanced wind tunnel will provide the possibility to develop even greater solutions than have yet been imagined. “With the HALO wind tunnel as the central hub, a world-class research consortium will be established for conducting pre-competitive aerodynamic research. It will act as a hub for industry, university [and] government to come together to work on common issues of next-generation methods development,” he said.

by Holly Henley, communications specialist, henley.53@osu.edu

Categories: ResearchIndustry