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New beginnings


In May 2023, we had a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and inauguration of our Fabulous Fluids Facility, in which the renovation of the Dryden Wind Tunnel was a key component. FFF serves to coordinate, collect and defragment many of the various fluid mechanics experiments on campus. The 3 major components are the Blue Water Channel (BWC), stratified fluids tank and DWT.

Many moons ago, plans were hatched, and re-hatched, and re-hatched again to upgrade certain parts of DWT, so as to improve the reliability and throughput of the whole operation. The following modifications were implemented:

  • replace the fan motor and controller
  • replace test sections with 3 interchangeable modules; each one can host an experiment
  • upgrade the force balance
  • replace/re-write all control and analysis software on a common Matlab base
  • reconfigure and expand the control room and model-building facility
  • give it all a new coat of paint!

These changes and upgrades were driven by Alejandra Uranga, and Michael Kruger has been responsible for a great deal of work in setting up and commissioning the new setup, which was mostly complete in December 2021. The new tunnel was first turned on in March 2022, and by the beginning of 2023 we can say that it is nearing production mode, though numerous flow quality tests will be continuing through the year.

Here’s a part of the journey in pictures:

Under construction

No mistaking this article — the characteristic octagonal cross-section of the DWT test section

Notable items include cans of paint, and a clear floor space. We needed both. This is the view from the test section out into the new control room.

There’s that paint again, and the space where the new test section will go.

It is sometimes hard to get a proper sense of scale but here is the return loop of the closed-circuit tunnel (the flow runs counterclockwise here). The vertical slats behind the red toolboxes are frames for the turbulence screens. There are 9. The more screens, the better the flow quality.

3 modular test sections (designed, built and installed by AeroLab). The center cell has the twin towers of a new sensitive force balance.

Imagine you are a fluid particle…

Starting to look like a lab.

At last — a wing. Guess which type? It’s the E387 again.

Opening Day

Dean Yannis Yortsos gave the introductory and welcome remarks. We are hugely grateful for his support in this remodel.
Luminaries include, from left: Paul Ronney (AME Dept. Chair), Mitul Luhar, Alejandra Uranga, Yannis Yortsos (Dean of the Viterbi School of Engineering), Geoff Spedding and Michael Kruger
…and let’s not forget the students (from left): Sameer Bijwadia, David Sztainbok, Kirin, Michael Kruger (super postdoc), Sarah Nguyen, Maya Shwab