Types and Uses of Wind Tunnels

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Wind tunnel is a large tube with air moving inside which is used to copy the actions of an object in flight. In wind tunnel air moves around an object, so the object seems like really flying. Although the form of a wind tunnel can vary, all wind tunnels have a high pressure system, heater, settling chamber and a test section. Air is compressed and stored in the high pressure system. It is released through a pressure regulating valve to create the desired pressure in the settling chamber. In high speed wind tunnels, heater is used to heat the air while passing through the heater bed to avoid liquefaction when it is expanded through the nozzle to get high Mach numbers. Scaled models of aircraft or space craft are placed in the test section for testing as shown in Figure 1.1. Some wind tunnels are big enough to hold full- size versions of vehicles. Figure 1.1: Wind tunnel with the model of a plane. (Courtesy : Wikipedia) Air is blown or sucked through a duct equipped with a viewing port and instrumentation where models or geometrical shapes are mounted for study. The movement of air through the tunnel is done by using a series of fans, which are usually powered by stationary turbo rather than electric motors. Vertical and horizontal air vanes make the turbulent air flow smooth, before reaching the test section. The cross section of the tunnel is circular to provide a smoother air flow. The smooth inner surface reduces the surface drag. The circular walls of the
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