The Revolutionary WindEEE Dome: Wind Tunnel Simulates Real Weather Events

By: Adriana Rezai-Stevens

The Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment Research Institute, or WindEEE, is a located in London, Ontario and is affiliated with Western University. Their aim is to be a “global leader in wind research and innovation”, and they have done just that with their WindEEE Dome. This dome is the world’s first wind tunnel in the shape of a hexagon, differing from the traditional tube-shaped domes, and is the world’s first test chamber specialized in three-dimensional flow simulations. A wind tunnel is used in aerodynamic research, where engineers study the effects of air moving past solid objects. According to NASA, wind tunnels are typically used to move air over a vehicle to simulate environmental conditions during flight.

The WindEEE Dome is able to produce any type of natural flow; whether it is straight flow, swirl flow, or shear flow. The highlight of this wind tunnel is its ability to simulate hurricanes, tornados, boundary layers, downbursts, and low-level currents.  This revolutionary design ultimately replicates the dynamics of real wind systems.

 

Found along the walls and at the top of the dome, 106 individually controlled fans are activated during testing periods to move the air through it. The area of wind simulation testing would be to the order of 10km2, and is used for Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV); a system that measures wind field over large areas.

 

 

This technology is thought to produce intense winds that are of level F3 based on the Fujita Scale; a rating system for tornado intensity that is based on the damage inflicted on man-made structures and vegetation. This will be great for advancements in renewable energy, as the strength of wind turbines can be tested. Wind turbine blades will be tested under realistic wind shear and wind turbulence conditions that will contribute to helping make wind turbines more robust, and more efficient. Additionally, this will be of great ecological value as it can measure the dispersal of pollutants, and can test the effects of wind on forest and plant cover. This will be useful, as the onset of climate change will come with more extreme weather events.

To learn more about the WindEEE Research Institute, visit: http://www.eng.uwo.ca/windeee/ 

Don’t forget to check them out at this year’s Green Energy Doors Open event. Receive a guided tour on Saturday, September 23rd and see this revolutionary technology for yourself! For more info, click here.