Senior executives of PSA Peugeot-Citroen, the Renault group and the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers (CNAM), on Tuesday inaugurated two automobile aeroacoustic wind tunnels, two years after the three companies founded Souffleries Aéroacoustiques Automobiles (S2A), a consortium designed to establish a so-called 'centre of excellence' for automobile aerodynamics in France.

The two wind tunnels are located on a site adjoining CNAM's Aerotechnical Institute (IAT) in Saint-Cyr l'Ecole, western Paris.

The wind tunnels reproduce the various aerodynamic and aeroacoustic phenomena to which vehicles are subjected, offering modern, testing resources to help engineers cut fuel consumption and improve safety.

Other aims are to improve acoustic comfort inside the cabin, and reduce vehicle noise. The venture means that public and private research laboratories have gained access to a French vehicle aerodynamics centre with the status of a 'Centre National de Recherche Technologique' (CNRT).

The first full-size wind tunnel will be used for aerodynamic and aeroacoustic testing. It is equipped with a rotating table, a moving platform and a system for rotating car wheels. The second wind tunnel, built on a 2/5 scale, will be used solely for aerodynamic testing.

The S2A project required an initial investment of over €36 million, including €32 million financed two-thirds by PSA Peugeot Citroën and Renault and one-third by the French government (ministries of industry, research and new technologies, Ile-de-France regional council and Yvelines general council).

Downstream view of one of the motor-driven fans in the new facility