Introduction to Commercial and Off-Road Vehicle Cooling Airflow Systems     


I.D.# C0738Printable Description
Duration: 2 Days
  Delivered in
March 6-7, 2018 (8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. ) - Lombard, Illinois    
August 14-15, 2018 (8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. ) - Lombard, Illinois    

Vehicle functional requirements, emission regulations, and thermal limits all have a direct impact on the design of a powertrain cooling airflow system. Given the expected increase in emission-related heat rejection, suppliers and vehicle manufacturers must work together as partners in the design, selection, and packaging of cooling system components. An understanding and appreciation of airflow integration issues and vehicle-level trade-offs that effect system performance are important to the team effort. The severe duty cycles, minimal ram air, and sometimes unconventional package layouts present unique challenges.

The goal of this two-day seminar is to introduce engineers and managers to the basic principles of cooling airflow systems for commercial and off-road vehicles. Participants will learn about vehicle/product constraints, integration issues, cooling airflow, system resistance, fans, shrouds, radiators, coolers, estimating heat rejection, thermal accumulation, air recirculation, system performance, and underhood airflow. Basic concepts will be reinforced with in-class discussion of case studies.

Included in this seminar is the SAE paper A Systems Engineering Approach to Engine Cooling Design; The 44th L. Ray Buckendale Lecture.

Note: A similar course is available on demand.

Learning Objectives
By attending this seminar, you will be able to:

  • List fundamental factors and constraints of commercial and off-road vehicle cooling airflow systems
  • List vehicle requirements and system integration issues
  • Describe system resistance, fan, shroud, installation effects, and radiator characteristics
  • List fan/shroud aerodynamic design considerations and installation effects
  • Estimate heat rejection and thermal accumulation for system analysis
  • Analyze performance of diesel cooling airflow system
  • List alternatives for program management trade-off discussions on cooling airflow systems

Who Should Attend
OEM and supplier engineers and managers who are involved with vehicle cooling systems, or who interface with vehicle program management on these issues, will benefit from this seminar. Graduate-level students interested in cooling systems will also find it instructive.

Participants should have an undergraduate engineering degree. Exposure to thermal product development is helpful, but not required.

Topical Outline


  • Vehicle Overview
    • Cooling airflow system
    • A classification
    • Industrial air-cooled heat exchanger assemblies
    • System and sub-system requirements
    • Thermal recirculation
    • Challenges
  • Thermodynamics Review
    • First law
    • Radiator heat transfer equation
    • Bernoulli's equation
    • SCFM
  • Key Concepts
    • Thermal road map
    • Fan airflow map
    • Flow energy balance equation
  • Fan Airflow (and system airflow road map)
    • Fan classification
    • Specific speed
    • Fan characteristic curve and matching
    • Fan static pressure
    • Air performance test chamber (AMCA)
    • Pusher and puller fans
  • Fan Airflow (and system airflow road map) cont'd
    • Vehicle installation effects-fan position, tip clearance, obstructions, installed performarmance
    • Fan laws
    • System airflow road map
    • Basic principles of mechanical fan systems
  • Vehicle Airflow Restrictions-Energy Losses
    • Loss mechanisms-expansion and contraction loss, grilles, heat exchangers and underhood
    • Front-end and underhood flow patterns
    • Ram pressure recovery
    • Locating fan operating point
  • Compact Heat Exchangers (and system heat transfer equation)
    • Thermal classification
    • Compact heat exchangers
    • Calorimeters
    • Radiator effectiveness and pressure drop
    • Fouling considerations, air-side
    • Thermal accumulation
  • Estimating Powertrain Heat Rejection
    • Heat rejection to coolant -- Mean effective pressure; SAE dynamometer test procedures
    • Specific Heat Rejection (SHR) characteristic curve
    • Vehicle installation considerations
  • Diesel Cooling Airflow System - Case Studies and Exercises
  • Underhood Airflow
    • Thermal considerations, airflow pattern, and air temperature distribution
    • Flow visualization video (using water)

Instructor(s): Jack Williams

Mr. Williams is the principal at Airflow & Aerodynamics Engineering, LLC and an independent consultant specializing in the design and development of thermal management systems and vehicle aerodynamics. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Lawrence Technological University (LTU) and a guest lecturer for their MSAE Program on Automotive Mechanical Systems. In addition to his consulting work, he conducts professional development seminars for engineers on cooling systems, HEV battery thermal management, and road vehicle aerodynamics. Mr. Williams has over thirty years engineering management experience in product development at Ford Motor Co. Additionally, he was an aerodynamics project leader with the USAF Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio where he specialized in engine/aircraft integration, gas turbine engine performance, inlet design, and aircraft mission analysis. An active member of the SAE, Mr. Williams has authored over twenty technical papers, given invited lectures at major mid-west universities, and has received professional awards and international recognition for his innovative work. He is a recipient of the Henry Ford II Technology Award, the SAE Industrial Lectureship Award, the SAE Oral Presentation Award, and the SAE Forest R. McFarland Award. He holds a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Detroit and an M.S. in Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering from the United States Air Force Institute of Technology.

Fees: $1370.00 ; SAE Members: $1096.00 - $1233.00

1.3 CEUs
You must complete all course contact hours and successfully pass the learning assessment to obtain CEUs.

“Jack Williams was an excellent instructor. He has a wealth of experience in all phases of aerodynamics and heat exchanger design. I learned more than I thought I would. This course is a must for engineers working in the area of engine cooling systems.”
Robert W. Cummings P.E.
Robert W. Cummings

"This excellent seminar presented the whole picture of vehicle thermal management system with sufficient depth for individual components."
Shiwei Qin
Senior Engineer
Borgwarner Inc.

"This program is a must for all engineers who work in the thermal management side of the business."
Michael Evans
Technical Specialist
Roush Industries Inc.

"Nice mix of theory and practical applications."
Ryan Schott
Senior Engineer
John Deere

To register, click Register button at the top of this page and submit the online form, or contact SAE Customer Service at 1-877-606-7323 (724/776-4970 outside the U.S. and Canada) or at

For a quote on bringing this course to your company site, fill out a Corporate Learning Solutions Request Form