Design and Construction of a Low Speed Wind Tunnel
Despite advances in computational aerodynamics, wind tunnels are and will continue to be a cornerstone in the design process for a wide range of vehicles. This mostly stems from the difficulties of accurately and efficiently predicting turbulent flowfields computationally. To expand in-house aerodynamics capabilities, a general-purpose low-speed wind tunnel is being designed and built in the Houghton College Physics Department. This wind tunnel is designed to reach test section speeds of up to 44.7 m/s (100 mph). To aid in the initial design, semi-empirical formulas are used to estimate aerodynamic efficiencies and the required fan-blower power as a function of various design choices. Tunnel geometry is selected to optimize test section air flow quality, test section size, and diffuser angle (to avoid boundary layer separation), while the overall tunnel size is constrained to fit in the allotted laboratory space. The proposed closed-circuit wind tunnel is vertically oriented to reduce footprint, and is 4.72 m (15.5 ft) long by 1.67 m (5.5 ft) by 0.762 m (2.5 ft) wide. The overall design is presented and current design and construction progress is highlighted. Additionally, future research studies that could utilize the wind tunnel are discussed.
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