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Wind Dome concept comes to life

May 31, 2011

Professor Horia Hangan points to a mini tornado produced by the small-scale model of the WindEEE Dome.

Miniature tornadoes are swirling in the Faculty of Engineering, with the completion of a functional small-scale model of the Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment (WindEEE) Dome.

“We’ve only done numerical simulations and now we can check those with a physical model,” says lead WindEEE researcher and Engineering professor, Horia Hangan. “These mini-dome tests will confirm that the type of flows we said we will generate, are there, and help us ensure the installation works the way it was designed to work. They will also help us understand how to create different wind flows such as tornadoes and storm bursts, which we plan to replicate in the large dome.”

The large dome Hangan is referring to is the $23.6-million 40-metre hexagonal WindEEE Dome, to be located at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in London, Ontario. Funded in part through the Canada Foundation for Innovation ($9.5 million) and the Ontario Research Fund ($9.5 million), the remaining $4.6 million will be raised through private donations. The WindEEE Dome will be the most advanced wind-research facility in the world when it is completed in the summer of 2012.

WindEEE will be the first facility in the world that can simulate local storm systems that cause more than 65 percent of the damage in interior North America.

“We are trying to tackle two sides of wind – the good part and bad part,” notes Hangan. “The bad part is tornadoes and storm bursts that create destruction. So we want to understand what they do to buildings and structures and mitigate those aspects. We will also look at the good part, which is wind farms, and how we can improve their efficiency and output.”

Reducing vulnerability and risk to buildings and natural habitat while also improving green energy efficiency will have a huge impact on society, says Hangan.

Building on Western’s 45 years of excellence in wind engineering, the WindEEE Dome will join the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory and the Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes to create a critical mass for wind research. Hangan notes the collaboration and research done amongst the three facilities will make Western the leading wind university in Canada and has already captured great interest internationally.

This article appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of Impact Western
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