2012 SURF: Wind Tunnel Design and Construction
Design and Construction of a Wind Tunnel for the Purpose of Testing Wind Turbine Performance
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Mark Jacobs, Mechanical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Jim Masi, Engineering Department
The purpose of this research is to research, design and build a full-scale wind tunnel in order to continue testing the comparison of the operation, efficiency, and modeling of two types of wind turbines: Horizontal, and Shrouded.
A wind tunnel consists of several distinct sections or stages. Moving in the direction of the airflow, the first section is the air straightener. The air straightener is a honeycomb screen that redirects turbulent air from its various entry vectors to a vector roughly in line with the long axis of the wind tunnel, thus “straightening” it. The next section is the contraction cone, named for its shape and purpose; it is meant to contract the low velocity air entering the tunnel into a smaller volume of high velocity air with laminar flow. The test section is the chamber in which the wind turbine models will be placed. It is made of transparent materials to allow observation and data acquisition.
Finally, the diffuser section is after the test section. The diffuser performs in an opposite fashion to the contraction cone. It widens out from the test chamber to the fan housing allowing the high velocity air to transition to a larger volume and lower velocity. By controlling this transition any turbulence that might create drag by back flowing into the test chamber can be diffused.