Engineers need bigger fans for hurricane studies

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08 Jun 2022, 6:36 pm

To Study 170-Knot Hurricanes, Engineers Will Need a Bigger Fan
Published Jun 6, 2022 12:32 AM by The Conversation
[By Richard Olson, Ameyu B. Tolera, Arindam Chowdhury and Ioannis Zisis]
https://www.maritime-executive.com/edit ... bigger-fan
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The Wall of Wind

There is currently only one life-size test facility at a U.S. university capable of generating Category 5 winds, currently the most powerful level of hurricane. That’s the Wall of Wind.

At one end of the facility is a curved wall of 12 giant fans, each as tall as an average person. Working together, they can simulate a 160 mph hurricane. Water jets simulate wind-driven rain. At the other end, the building opens up to a large field where engineers can see how and where structures fail and the debris flies.
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Expanding testing: 200 mph winds + storm surge

While engineers have been gaining knowledge through testing, the nature of storms is changing as the planet warms.

Warmer temperatures – fueled by increasing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities – enable the air to hold more moisture, and warmer oceans provide more energy to fuel hurricanes. Research shows that bigger and more intense storms that are heavier with water and moving more slowly are going to hammer the areas they hit with more wind, storm surge, flooding and debris.

Storms like these are why we’re working with eight other universities to design a new facility to test construction against 200 mph winds (322 km/h), with a water basin to test the impact of storm surge up to 20 feet (6 meters) high plus waves.

Computers can model the results, but their models still need to be verified by physical experiments.
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