Engineering Physics receives wind tunnel donation

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Students move wind tunnel

Students maneuver the tunnel’s fan component through the ERB loading dock. (large image)

Students in the Department of Engineering Physics (EP) are putting the final touches on the college’s new wind tunnel. The tunnel was the design project of EP graduate student Matt Orzewalla and EP graduate Marti Gissel during their senior year. The $85,000 tunnel is a gift from Greenheck company of Schofield, Wisconsin. Greenheck is a supplier of air movement and control equipment including fans, dampers, louvers, kitchen ventilation hoods, and energy recovery and make-up air units. Their equipment is used in all types of commercial, institutional and industrial buildings in applications from comfort ventilation to manufacturing processes. Rockwell Automation donated the frequency drive to control the fan speed.

Engineering Physics lecturer Ron Thomson contacted Greenheck after hearing the company had donated a wind tunnel to another school. Greenheck agreed to build and donate the tunnel to COE if the students designed it.

The tunnel’s test area is four feet wide and three feet tall. The system is designed to achieve wind speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. The resulting friction from air moving past the fan blades will heat the air significantly so more than 100 gallons per minute of chilled water must be piped through the system in order to cool it down.

Assistant Professor of Engineering Physics Riccardo Bonazza says the tunnel will be used in his new course Applied Aerodynamics. He also plans to submit research proposals that will take advantage of the new equipment.