Named in recognition of the long-established relationship between Carleton University and Pratt and Whitney Canada (PWC), the wind tunnel gives graduate students, researchers and PWC engineers the opportunity to collaborate on leading-edge turbine aerodynamics research.
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 (commissioned in 1994) has been used extensively for profile loss measurements in the past. Various high-pressure and low-pressure turbine cascades have been examined in order to study the effects of compressibility and off-design incidence on turbine aerodynamics performance. The test section of the wind tunnel allows for three-dimensional flow measurements. Experimental investigations include pressure and temperature measurements as well as surface flow visualizations.
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.