Wind Tunnel Facilities


Carleton University is home to several wind tunnel facilities with a variety of purposes. Although used for research across disciplines, the majority of wind tunnels support research for aerospace in advanced aerodynamics and aeroacoustics. These facilities have been funded, built, and changed over time to accommodate evolving aerospace research, technology, and innovation.

Wind Induced Dynamics Facility (WinD Lab)

This 1.25 Million dollar facility will also come on-line in early 2016 and will house Canada’s only large cross-section wind tunnel capable of moving large (1000 kg) test specimens in 6 degrees of freedom within the test section of the tunnel. The facility will be used to research floating wind turbines and shipboard helicopter operations by producing realistic wind while prescribing motion of scaled models within the wind tunnel. This research will have implications for the energy and aviation industries as Carleton examines how to optimize rotor blade design and operation under windy sea conditions.

Funding for this research is thanks to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Research Fund (ORF). Industry partners are also investing through in-kind contributions.


Pratt and Whitney Canada High-Speed Wind Tunnel Laboratory

Pratt & Whitney High-Speed Wind Tunnel

Main purpose: turbomachinery blade testing
Type: open-loop, blowdown
Typical speed: up to Mach 1.2
Instrumentation: pressure probes, hot-wire

Gas turbine engines are used to both propel aircraft and for power generation. As researchers learn more about flow losses that occur within turbine blade cascades they are able to design more fuel efficient engines, which are important as we work to conserve energy on large scales.

This unique facility tests linear cascades of turbine blades revealing airflow patterns in gas turbine engines. A 100 horsepower compressor is used to fill the four large tanks with compressed air. The high-pressure air is then passed through the turbine blades at speeds that can reach transonic and supersonic speeds (up to Mach 1.4). This replicates the high-speed flows downstream of the combustor with a gas turbine engine. At these Mach numbers shockwaves become a significant source of energy loss. The P&W high-speed wind tunnel allows researchers to detect these shock waves and measure losses.

The wind tunnel is currently being expanded to include aeroacoustic studies of compressible flows at high subsonic Mach numbers. This upgrade is the result of CARIC/CRIAQ funding (ENV 715) and will allow researchers to retrofit the facility to  include aeroacoustic research.

Commercial passenger aircraft operate just below the speed of sound, which generates a large amount of environmental and wind noise. The implications of this research will result in a better understanding of the noise production on the hull of aircrafts, yielding quieter operation and flight experience for passengers. This aeroacoustic addition to the lab is expected to be complete in 2016 and will make it the only facility of its kind in Canada.

Wind Tunnels for Gas Turbine Aerodynamics Research

2-D low-speed wind tunnel for turbomachinery investigations

Main purpose: calibration of pressure and hot-wire probes
Type: open-loop
Typical speed: 55 m/s
Instrumentation: pressure probes, hot wire

The low-speed equivalent to the P&W high-speed wind tunnel, this wind tunnel is also used for testing linear cascades of gas turbine blades. Due to the larger scales of the turbine blades and lower flow speeds, this wind tunnel is focused on the examination of secondary flows – the vortices that form near the ends of the blades.

Secondary flows result in energy loss so reducing the strength of these flows can lead to more efficient turbine designs.

Low-speed open-jet turbomachinery wind tunnel

This wind tunnel research produces an open jet flow, which has been used for lobe mixer research. The white star-shaped nozzle at the end is called a lobe-mixer, which reduces noise produced by the exhaust jet of an aircraft engine. Research in this area focuses on reducing aircraft noise on the ground.

Low Turbulence Wind Tunnels

Low speed, low turbulence, suction wind tunnel

Main purpose: investigation of transitional boundary layers and separation bubbles
Type: open-loop
Typical speed: 30 m/s
Instrumentaion: pressure probes, hot wire

The idea behind this wind tunnel is to create a very low disturbance flow. There is large contraction at the beginning of the tunnel to accelerate the air producing a clean (low disturbance) flow through the test section and into a fan. It is designed for speeds between 1 and 10 meters per second and has a test section of 30 x 20 inches where the boundary layer transition is studied.

Boundary layer transition is the process by which a smooth laminar flow over a surface becomes random and turbulent. The reason we try and control the transition process is to either improve heat transfer and prevent separation or prevent transition to reduce drag and noise.

Atmospheric boundary layer wind tunnel

Main purpose: investigation of ground-based structures in atmospheric boundary layer
Type: open-loop
Typical speed: 17 m/s
Instrumentaion: pressure probes, hot wire

Here, flow tripping devices create a boundary similar to the one that appears in the atmosphere close to the earth. Air near the surface of the earth is slowed down and air along the edge of the boundary layer flows quicker. This phenomenon is studied as has implications for wind turbine development and building.

This wind tunnel is also used to test aircraft flight aerodynamics for an undergraduate lab experiment.

Low-speed wind tunnel

Main purpose: airfoil and blunt body testing
Type: closed-loop
Typical speed: 55 m/s
Instrumentation: pressure probes, hot wire, load balance

The low speed wind tunnel in this lab is used for further research in aeroacoustics to measure the noise of a turbulent boundary layer. By sending air flows through this wind tunnel, the test section is acoustically insulated to isolate the noise generated by the air flow over a flat plate. This research has implications on the noise generated from air flowing over an aircraft fuselage.

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