How do wind tunnels work and how are they used?

by Garber Metrology

Wind does not work that way!Wind and airflow are all around us. It is important to measure it to ensure proper ventilation in our homes, factories, and office buildings. It is also necessary to measure airflow to ensure the safety of buildings (against harsh winds or hurricanes) or in laboratories working with volatile chemicals. Wind tunnels are used to help calibrate and build wind gauges, which can help measure wind flow. They are also used to learn more about the aerodynamics of objects such as cars, airplanes, and trains.

How they work

Wind tunnels are a somewhat simple construction. They are a long tube enclosed in glass, plastic, metal, or sometimes entire buildings. Wind tunnels have a high-powered fan on both ends of the tube. One to blow wind onto the object and another to move air out of the tunnel. That way there is no return flow that could damage the data being collected. Wind tunnels can be a small as a coffee table or as large as a warehouse. They often have several different settings to test objects or recalibrate wind gauges in different wind speeds. This way the object or wind gauge won’t be damaged while working and the wind gauge will be able to precisely and accurately measure the wind outdoors or indoors.

How they’re used

Wind tunnels are used to recalibrate and test wind gauges. Wind gauges are used to measure the wind’s force outdoors, in factories, and even in the ductwork of offices and plants. This can help keep ductwork from malfunctioning or becoming over pressurized from air moving through it. It can also keep offices and plants well ventilated. Offices, factories, and plants need to be well ventilated to ensure the respiratory health of employees and in some instances can keep employees and products safe from harmful chemicals entering the air. Many essential oil manufacturers have elaborate ventilation systems that must work to their best ability to keep employees from becoming ill or injured.

Wind tunnels are also used to measure the aerodynamics of certain objects and systems. Many planes and cars are put into wind tunnels before manufactured in mass. This is to test if they are aerodynamic and will preform safely on the road or in the sky. The same goes for many airplane engines. Many companies including NASA and Boeing use massive wind tunnels (often times taking up entire buildings) to test their airplanes and airplane engines. This is essential to ensure the safety and efficiency of the plane.

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