Science Nation: Terraformer wind tunnel takes hazards engineering research to a new level

Science Nation

From NSF Science Nation, February 20, 2017  --  Next generation wind engineering facility draws researchers from all over the country; new tools provide information to help save lives, protect property

Wind engineer and 13th generation Floridian Forrest Masters knows how to ride out a hurricane. In fact, hurricanes have become his life's work. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Masters and a team at the University of Florida are developing a world-class facility with new technology to help engineers and scientists better understand the high wind storms that batter communities along U.S. coastlines. This facility is part of NSF's $62-million investment in Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI).

NSF-funding supports new tools, such as the Terraformer wind tunnel, which can dial up any type of terrain in 90 seconds, and a second high-speed simulator that can generate winds over 230 miles per hour.

NHERI has the broad goal of supporting research that will improve the resilience and sustainability of civil infrastructure -- such as buildings and other structures, underground structures, levees, and critical lifelines -- against the natural hazards of earthquakes and windstorms, in order to minimize loss of life, damage and economic loss.

The research in this episode is supported by NSF award #1520843, Experimental Facility with Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel, Wind Load and Dynamic Flow Simulators, and Pressure Loading Actuators.

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Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Marsha Walton, Science Nation Producer