Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Huge Wind Machine To Simulate Category Three Hurricanes

Date:
June 1, 2007
Source:
University Of Florida
Summary:
It will huff, and puff, and blow the house in -- but only for research purposes. Wind engineers just unveiled the world's largest portable hurricane wind and rain simulator. Civil and coastal engineers plan to use the simulator to blast vacant homes with winds of up to 130 mph -- Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale -- and high-pressure water jets that mimic wind-driven torrential rain.

University of Florida wind engineering researcher Forrest Masters stands on a newly completed, fully portable hurricane wind simulator on May 29, 2007. Mounted on a trailer, the industrial-sized simulator is composed of eight 5-foot-high industrial fans powered by four marine engines that collectively produce 2,800 horsepower.
Credit: Kristen Bartlett Grace/University of Florida

It will huff, and puff, and blow the house in — but only for research purposes.

Two days before the June 1 start of the 2007 hurricane season, University of Florida wind engineers unveiled the world’s largest portable hurricane wind and rain simulator. Mounted on a trailer, the industrial-sized behemoth is composed of eight 5-foot-tall industrial fans powered by four marine diesel engines that together produce 2,800 horsepower. To cool the engines, the system taps water from a 5,000-gallon tank aboard a truck that doubles as the simulator’s tow vehicle.

UF civil and coastal engineers plan to use the simulator to blast vacant homes with winds of up to 130 mph — Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale — and high-pressure water jets that mimic wind-driven torrential rain.

The goal: to learn more about exactly how hurricanes damage homes, and how to modify them to best prevent that damage.

“We want to conduct experiments to evaluate real homes in communities that are impacted by hurricanes,” said Forrest Masters, an assistant professor of civil and coastal engineering and the leader of the project. “This simulator also gives us the ability to test home retrofits and new building products aimed at preventing hurricane damage.”

The simulator, which cost about $500,000 in parts and labor, was designed and constructed entirely by Masters, lab manager Jimmy Jesteadt and a team of undergraduate students.

It is one of a kind.

Unlike previous, smaller simulators, the new simulator uses an innovative hydraulic system, rather than chains or mechanical drive trains, to transfer power from the engines to the fans. Designed by Linde Hydraulics Corporation and Cunningham Fluid Power Inc., the engines spin pumps, which then drive fluid through motors housed in the fans. The result is lighter, less bulky and safer than traditional drive systems, Masters said.

At full power, the fans turn at about 1,800 revolutions per minute, producing wind speeds of about 100 mph. A custom-built duct reduces the space available for the air to flow through, ratcheting up the wind speeds to a potential 130 mph. Steering vanes allow the engineers to direct the air wherever they want it to blow.

Implanted in the vanes, the water jets can simulate the most extreme rainfall of up to 35 inches per hour, although 8 inches per hour is more typical, Masters said.

The simulator is the latest addition to a growing arsenal of hurricane research equipment designed and assembled by UF wind engineering researchers trying to learn more about ground-level hurricane winds and how they affect structures. In a related project, the researchers built several portable hurricane wind monitoring towers that were deployed in the path of land-falling hurricanes in recent years.

“When this program first started, we brought the lab to the hurricane,” Masters said. “Now, we’re bringing the hurricane back to the lab.”

Rick Dixon, executive director of the Florida Building Commission, said state officials began to tap UF research for help in strengthening the state’s hurricane-related building codes shortly after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

The 2004 storms showed that while improved codes were effective in preventing catastrophic building failures, challenges remained in blocking wind and water intrusion, he said. It will take more research to learn how to protect windows, doors, soffits, roof coverings and other so-called “components and claddings” – research for which the new wind simulator will be pivotal, he said.

“The test facility that Forrest has built allows us to evaluate those components and claddings and determine where they are failing,” he said. “So if the building code establishes minimum performances, than that can give us new standards for upgrading the building code.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Florida. "Huge Wind Machine To Simulate Category Three Hurricanes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070531102336.htm>.
University Of Florida. (2007, June 1). Huge Wind Machine To Simulate Category Three Hurricanes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070531102336.htm
University Of Florida. "Huge Wind Machine To Simulate Category Three Hurricanes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070531102336.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

Raw: Volcano Erupts on Papua New Guinea

AP (Aug. 29, 2014) Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after one of the most active volcanos in the region erupts. (Aug. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley, California, has finally been solved. Scientists are pointing to a combo of water, ice and wind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins