Drag Reduction of a C5 Grain Car

Abstract PDF: 

Union Pacific spends approximately 202 million dollars each year pulling train cars loaded with grain. In order to conserve fuel, reduce emissions and save money, Union Pacific partnered with Brigham Young University to improve their C5 grain cars. The method of fuel conservation was to analyze then reduce the aerodynamic drag on the cars.

This fuel conservation was achieved by analyzing the fluid dynamics of the grain car by means of computer simulation and tests performed in a wind tunnel. Areas of high drag were assessed and modified so that drag would be reduced. After the grain car was modified the wind tunnel and computer tests were done again to ensure that benefits were actually made.

The final delivered project included computer simulations, pictures of pressure gradients, streamlines, streaklines, videos showing the motion of the air, combinations of modifications, modifications that are not suggested and wind tunnel results. The final suggested modifications resulted in a drag reduction of 12.6% and a fuel reduction of 4.2%.

School Year (term): 
Union Pacific Railroad
Team Name: 
Richard Gee
Team Members: 
Paul Mugleston, Robbie Petterborg, Griffin McGinn, James Rampton, and Jared Thomas

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