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Development of a Performance Intake Plenum for the Ford Focus RS Mk2, ST225 & Volvo 5 cyl

Automotive design is all about compromise, parts are designed to meet several criteria and as a result one attribute, e.g. efficiency, driveability or cost is often chosen in favour of another, e.g. vehicle performance. This is also the case with the Ford Focus RS Mk2 intake system. The standard plenum is a small, cheap, restrictive plastic item. This has not been left unnoticed as a number of performance versions have appeared on the market. A computational study was undertaken to assess the performance of the standard plenum and that of a popular aftermarket plenum. Simulation results show that the aftermarket unit still left much to be desired, as the design still had a number of flow restrictions akin to the standard plenum. The study then focused on modifying the geometry to eliminate or reduce these restrictions. This developed a new plenum of rational design from the inside-out. The new unit will surpass the performance of the standard part and outperform other inferior units on the market with its superior cylinder distribution and flow characteristics. Figure 2. Vortex restricting flow above cylinder 1

An analysis of the flow in the standard plenum and a popular aftermarket version was conducted using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Aside from initial simulations to establish the primary grid independent solution, 40 further simulations were performed to ascertain flow characteristics for the baseline models and modified geometries at two different engine speeds and higher than standard boost pressures. Initial results highlighted a number of areas for improvement akin to both the standard and aftermarket versions. For example, the shape of the plenum above cylinder 1 was inducing a vortex and restricting flow to this cylinder (fig 1&2). This causes poor cylinder distribution and will have a detrimental effect on both power and efficiency.

With a number of modifications to the plenum shape, an optimum was reached. Results showed superior cylinder distribution and an average 6% flow increase per cylinder (when compared to the aftermarket product), while reducing turbulence and increasing the average velocity into the ports, providing improved flow quality and quantity for better combustion and an increase in performance.

As the air travels through the intake system it must flow through the various passages and parts involved. Reducing the obstruction posed by these sections will reduce the effective pressure drop and increase the flow capacity of the system, although care must be taken to ensure a high velocity is maintained in the flow closer to the engine.

Figure 1. Flow through the aftermarket plenum

Figure 3. U LTIMATE optimised performance plenum