Scania’s SEK 400 million (AUS$ 64.5 million) investment in Europe’s most advanced climatic wind tunnel for full-size trucks and buses will today be officially inaugurated by Annie Lööf, Sweden’s Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Communications, and Scania’s President and CEO, Martin Lundstedt.
With the climatic wind tunnel, located at the research and development centre in Södertälje, Sweden, Scania can subject test vehicles to the most demanding weather conditions on home ground, thereby speeding up development and improving performance.
Scania will now be less dependent on field-testing and, using the wind tunnel’s controlled environment, can shorten lead-time from development to product launch.
“This unique facility will help us improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions even further,” says Harald Ludanek, Executive Vice President for Research and Development. “Because we can reduce the impact of snow, rain and dirt, drivers will benefit from a better cab environment and enhanced safety.”
In the facility, temperatures between -35 and +50 degrees Celsius can be simulated, as well as humidity of between 5 and 95 percent. The air channel system is equipped with a number of small snow cannons to produce various types of snow. The snow can be replaced with rain of whatever intensity desired, and even the drop size can be altered. By adding an ultraviolet (UV) visible chemical to the rainwater, and subsequently illuminating the test vehicles with UV light, it is possible to determine exactly where rainwater and dirt have stuck and how they flow off the vehicle.
The test vehicle is parked on rollers – one for each set of wheels. These allow technicians to simulate speeds of up to 100 km/h, the optimal pace for testing trucks and buses.
Among tests that will be carried out are how components withstand heat and chill, how rainwater flows off vehicles, driver visibility in heavy rain and snow, windscreen icing, wind noise and how dirt adheres to cab sides, rear view mirrors and door handles.
“Scania’s trucks and buses are designed to offer the best performance, regardless of climate,” says Christer Ramdén, Head of Vehicle Performance Testing. “As we enter new industrial segments and markets, with increasingly challenging climatic conditions, we need to ensure that our vehicles will perform faultlessly.”
Construction of the 25-metre tall building was started in 2011 and completed earlier this year, when extensive testing of the complex systems took place. The sheer size of the building is needed to accommodate trucks and buses and the huge nozzle, with a surface area of 13 square metres, from which air is forced past the vehicle and then fed up to a fan on the upper level of the facility.
The climatic wind tunnel offer advantages such as performing tests under near-Arctic conditions in the middle of summer and, conversely, simulating scorching heat in winter. Above all, the facility offers opportunities for reliable repetitive testing. Based on actual road segments in Europe and elsewhere – which have been carefully documented and recorded – tests in the climatic wind tunnel can be programmed to precisely simulate these segments.
In heavy rain, tests can be carried out to assess water intrusion in air intakes and its effects on wiper functions, how the climate system performs and mist removal.
In snow, tests can determine snow clogging on front lids, snow intrusion in air intakes, snow clogging of filters as well as wiper and defroster functions.
Sunshine can be generated with a radiation intensity of 400–1,100 W/m² on the front, roof and cab sides. Cloud and tunnel functions can also be simulated. Tests can thereby show how the climate system copes with heat.
By adding 0.5% fluorescent chemical to rain water, tests will show contamination of sides and door handles, windscreen and side window visibility, and how exterior driving mirrors are soiled.
Aero-acoustic tests can be carried out to measure wind noise, also with a lateral wind flow.