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Wind-tunnel development and trends in applications to civil engineering
Jack E. Cermaka,b
b a Department of Civil Engineering, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA Cermak Peterka Petersen, Inc. (CPP, Inc.), Wind Engineering Consultants, Fort Collins, CO 80524, USA
Received 20 November 2001; received in revised form 12 September 2002; accepted 13 September 2002
Abstract A review is presented on wind tunnels capable of simulating natural winds, the boundarylayer wind tunnel (BLWT), and trends in their extensive use in civil-engineering practice. BLWTs and data-acquisition systems, as they evolved to meet needs in civil engineering, are described. Advancements are highlighted for the types of wind-load information now available to structural engineers and architects by BLWT tests using the advanced data-acquisition systems–the high-frequency base balance (H-FBB) and the synchronous multi-pressure sensing system (SM-PSS). Trends in applications of BLWT tests to determine wind effects on structures and to investigate wind-related environmental problems are described. Technical details of the BLWT, the H-FBB, the SM-PSS, and their proper use are available in references cited and are not restated in this review. r 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Boundary-layer wind tunnels; High-frequency base balance; Synchronous multi-pressure systems; Wind-load tests; Wind environment tests
1. Introduction Within the last 30 years wind tunnels have evolved as an indispensable aid to the practice of civil engineering. Major applications to civil engineering are through wind-tunnel tests for wind effects on structures. Another important class of civilengineering applications in which wind-tunnel investigations contribute valuable information is treatment of wind-related environmental problems. Wind tunnels and trends in their applications to civil-engineering practice are reviewed herein.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org (J.E. Cermak). 0167-6105/03/$ - see front matter r 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 1 6 7 - 6 1 0 5 ( 0 2 ) 0 0 3 9 6 - 3
and procedures for various types of tests is available in Refs. Ind. However. The earliest accounts were published in 1742  and 1759  where ﬂow was realized by rotating the object on an arm through still air. Information on requirements for boundary-layer wind simulation.11 m in cross section) installed in the wall of a gas-works smoke stack.02 m in length. None of the foregoing ﬂows simulated features of natural winds in the atmospheric boundary layer. 1894–1895. Wind Eng. Cermak / J. Uniqueness of this facility is derived from the long test section which allows for . Australian studies on wind loads for houses were reported  in which models placed on a ground plane were subjected to an open air jet. This ﬁnding was reinforced by comparison of mean pressure measurements at the Wind Laboratory. 2. on a 1:20 scale model in a wind tunnel with ﬁeld measurements on the full-scale building . advancements in techniques for creating air ﬂow to obtain wind loads on objects by measurements on small-scale models are summarized. wind tunnels of this period were not designed to simulate natural winds . During the next 50 years. Technical University of Denmark. Wind-tunnel studies at the National Physical Laboratory  and at Colorado State University  revealed that physical modeling of wind effects requires a properly simulated boundary-layer ﬂow. In this review. pressure measurements on model buildings and mass-transport studies were made in various wind tunnels. Flow in this case was induced through a test section (1.E. model construction. Approximately 150 years later. Plan and elevation drawings of the original boundary-layer wind tunnel are shown in Fig. Details presented in Ref. Efforts in this regard were reported in 1742  and advanced to development of the boundarylayer wind tunnel (BLWT) concept in 1958  which is in general use today. 0. 1. A wind tunnel for simulation of the atmospheric boundary layer was designed during 1955–1957  and constructed in the period 1960–1962 .  are particularly comprehensive. Wind-tunnel investigations for wind-engineering applications are discussed in a variety of publications that include Refs. In the following sections. [1–10]. Aerodyn. 91 (2003) 355–370 Emphasis is on advancements in the types of information that have become accessible due to recent data-acquisition system developments rather than on technical details of test procedures.23 Â 0. 1900–1950. At about the same time. and (2) the synchronous multi-pressure sensing system (SM-PSS) reported in the English literature in 1991 .356 J. [1–5]. applications that are indicative of current trends are emphasized. Two systems are described that have greatly expanded the scope of information available to the practicing engineer—(1) the high-frequency base balance (H-FBB) reported in 1975 . The beneﬁts of BLWT tests on structures were not fully realized until new concepts and capabilities for data-acquisition systems were developed. pressure studies were conducted in Denmark  on simple building models. Development of the boundary-layer wind tunnel Attempts to determine wind forces on objects using small-scale models in air ﬂow generated by a variety of methods have been reported in the literature.
The University of Western Ontario BLWT II . Cermak / J. 2). 3) and the Public Works Research Institute in Tsukubu. development of thick turbulent boundary layers. heating and cooling capabilities for creating thermally stratiﬁed boundary layers and a ﬂexible ceiling for adjustment of pressure along the test-section length. . Aerodyn. Wind Eng. Monash University (Fig. Ind. 2.E. 91 (2003) 355–370 357 Fig. Several major boundary-layer wind tunnels with advanced features were designed and constructed between 1980 and 1995. BLWT. Japan (Fig.18].J. Colorado State University [7. 4). Fig. Details of this BLWT are given in [2–4. The most noteworthy are facilities at the University of Western Ontario (Fig.19]. 1.
Fig.H. The Public Works Research Institute BLWT. 3 incorporates three test sections designed to accommodate different . Advanced features of the BLWT shown in Fig. Ind. Melbourne (1994). Aerodyn. 2 are a water channel in the return ﬂow section for studies of wind and wave forces on offshore structures and an automated surface roughness system in the high-speed test section.E.358 J. Wind Eng. The BLWT shown in Fig. The Monash University BLWT (vertical section)—courtesy Professor W. 3. 91 (2003) 355–370 Fig. Tsukuba. Japan . 4. Cermak / J.
1 and 2. France. Design of the BLWT of Fig. Studies [22.23] have demonstrated that by placing ﬂow-adjustment devices such as spires. Cermak / J. Netherlands. Sweden. The list includes both aeronautical and boundary-layer wind tunnels. 1–5. Characteristics of 241 low-speed wind-tunnels. Italy. India. Wind Eng. Tests on civil and some aeronautical structures can be made in the ﬁrst test section downstream from the fans at higher Reynolds numbers than in the BLWTs of Figs. Switzerland. Spain. opencircuit BLWTs similar to the facility shown in Fig. Furthermore. 4 provides an advanced capability for testing long-span bridges. vortex generators. Japan. 91 (2003) 355–370 359 types of testing. in the United States. However. 5. . New Zealand. Aerodyn. and fences at the test-section entrance acceptable turbulent boundary layers can be realized in test sections shorter than for the BLWTs shown in Figs. The 41-m wide test section can accommodate aeroelastic tests on full-bridge models at favorable length scales.J. as of about 1984.E. Canada. and West Germany have been published . The closed-circuit BLWTs shown in Figs. Open-circuit BLWT. In the next test section noise generated by ﬂow over motor vehicles can be studied. Major advantages of the open-circuit BLWT are lower construction costs and a requirement of less laboratory space than for a closed-circuit BLWT with the same test-section length. Colorado State University . Australia. 1–4 provide ﬂow free from external disturbances and laboratory space free from disturbing air currents. 5 have been constructed throughout the world since about 1965 and more are under construction. these devices can be used to thicken boundary layers in the long test-section BLWTs . Fig. Ind. A key difference between the two types of facilities is test-section length. United Kingdom. Belgium. The third test section provides heating of the ceiling to create stably stratiﬁed boundary layers for environmental studies of dispersion.
Advancements in data-acquisition systems Modern capabilities of testing for civil-engineering applications (as well as architectural and urban-planning applications) have been made possible by development of advanced data-acquisition and processing systems . natural frequencies of model/balance systems are nominally at least 100 Hz for moments about the three orthogonal axes (x. Brief descriptions of both measurement systems are presented to provide a basis for discussion of their applications. H-FBB characteristics Basic features of typical H-FBBs in use today are illustrated in Fig. High-frequency base balance (Courtesy Cermak Peterka Petersen. During the last 15 years H-FBB test results have become widely used by structural engineers and have replaced use of the costly aeroelastic test for many structures. 6.1. This deﬁciency can cause wind loads predicted by a H-FBB test to be too low for some structures . and z).E.360 J. and z base moments and x and y base shears provide data for a variety of applications that include determination of dynamic responses. Inc. y. Wind Eng. Ind. the static H-FBB test does not account for negative aerodynamic damping that may occur for high wind speeds or structures that experience signiﬁcant lateral deﬂections. Aerodyn. and (2) the synchronous multi-pressure scanning system (SM-PSS).). A major advantage of the H-FBB test is that wind loads (the aerodynamic admittance) obtained from a single test can be used to calculate Fig.8] and progressed as more sensitive strain-measurement arrangements became available . With sufﬁciently low-mass models of high-stiffness and high-stiffness balances. Simultaneous measurements of the x. . Development of this device began in the 1970s [27. 6. However. The following systems have revolutionized the scope and detail of test results for purposes of design and analysis: (1) the high-frequency base balance (H-FBB). 3. 91 (2003) 355–370 3. y. Cermak / J.
Aerodyn.2. masts Long-span bridges Iced transmission lines where n is the fundamental natural frequency and h is building height. Structures expected to have insigniﬁcant and signiﬁcant NAD are listed as follows: Insigniﬁcant NAD High-rise buildings (massive. For a structure with 500 pressure taps. Wind Eng. slender.J. Within the last 10 years development of SM-PSSs has made this possible. Test conditions that must be satisﬁed to obtain reliable wind-effect data are not presented herein.1. 4. broad. 91 (2003) 355–370 361 structural responses for a range of structural properties provided the exterior structural geometry is not altered. 3. n>1 Hz) Large-area roofs (n>1 Hz) Signiﬁcant NAD High-rise buildings (lightweight. They are available in Ref.E. SM-PSS characteristics A long-time aspiration has been the ability to acquire instantaneous distributions of pressures continuously on all exterior surfaces of a structure.000–500.  with detailed discussions. Section 4 describes the types of information that may be derived from properly conducted BLWT tests. Initial development took place in Japan during 1986  with progress reported in 1991  and 1994 . Aggregate sampling rates vary from about 100. exposed) Towers. and (2) environmental effects. Trends in applications of wind-tunnel testing to civil engineering Civil engineering and architectural applications of wind-tunnel testing may be divided into two broad classes—(1) wind effects on structures. Advancements in applications of BLWT tests following development of the . 4. tall chimneys.000 samples per second and the number of pressure taps sampled simultaneously may vary from 500 to 1000 for systems at different laboratories. Cermak / J. complex environment) Low-rise buildings (hp 18 m. BLWT studies of wind effects on structures Structures commonly subjected to BLWT tests may be categorized according to the expected signiﬁcance motion of the structure will have on increasing dynamic excitation—a phenomenon referred to as negative aerodynamic damping (NAD). Ind.000 aggregate sampling rate SM-PSS will yield 200 pressure distributions each second. Trends in types of wind effects on structures available to the engineer and architect brought about by development of the H-FBB and SM-PSS are described. a 100. Wind-related environmental problems associated with civil-engineering practice are noted that are frequently studied by physical modeling in BLWTs.
Useful applications are determination of wind loads and dynamic responses for high-rise buildings. modal areas of large span roofs. their ﬂuctuation statistics. D.35]. Aerodyn. greatly extend the types of information that can be derived from BLWT tests for structural engineers and architects.2. connected by a sky bridge or closely spaced with potential for bumping. and peak overall wind loads.E. D. E.1. This test provides direct measurement of time series for base moments and shears (if needed) resulting from instantaneous overall wind loads. now available in the major wind-engineering laboratories. For a given building geometry only one test is necessary to determine dynamic responses for various sets of structural properties and wind speeds.1. Statistics of overall wind loads became accessible. Ind. canopies. Tests can be performed quickly and for low cost compared to aeroelastic tests. and on structures forming an interconnected group [31. free-standing walls.362 J. C. rms. Test data (the aerodynamic admittance) can be acquired prior to determination of structural properties by the structural engineer.33]. The following commentary is focused on these advancements. SM-PSS tests By weighting (electronically) the instantaneous pressure at each pressure tap according to its tributary area and inﬂuence function. C. and correlations can be determined. low-rise buildings. 91 (2003) 355–370 H-FBB and SM-PSS have been primarily for structures in the Insigniﬁcant NAD category. Wind loads on high-rise buildings are sometimes determined by a SM-PSS test rather than a H-FBB test [34.1. H-FBB tests The H-FBB test is used primarily to obtain wind loads on tall structures and buildings of medium-height. B. base shears. B. Findings of a H-FBB test can be used to determine the need for an aeroelastic test and the likely wind directions for critical responses. When two high-rise buildings are on a common foundation. and moment/shear combinations. instantaneous forces and moments. Mean. Wind Eng. Major beneﬁts derived from development of the H-FBB may be summarized as follows: A. Approximate vertical distribution of peak loads when the H-FBB test is accompanied by a non-synchronous pressure test (a common occurrence). 4. various structural components. These data can be processed to provide a variety of information for design and analysis that include the following: A. Cermak / J. Correlations for components of base moments. 4. Spectra of base loads. The SM-PSS test can provide all . High-speed scanning systems. each building can be mounted on separate H-FBBs and base-load data acquired simultaneously .
rather than only a linear mode shape assumed for the H-FBB test. The advent of SM-PSSs has contributed greatly to design of large-area roof systems. because wind damage to low-rise buildings has become recognized as the cause of major economic loss. . Aerodyn. Wind Eng. B. in no small measure. Ind. In both of these circumstances a H-FBB test would be more appropriate. Accurate vertical distributions of peak shears and moments (including torsion) .J. Database-assisted design for wind loads  is in a state of development . Mean and ﬂuctuating overall loads on parabolic domes determined by a SM-PSS have been reported . The dynamic analysis can be performed accurately for various mode shapes of the deﬂected building. Measurements with SM-PSSs have made pressure (aerodynamic) databases accessible for simple low-rise buildings [48. In the last decade. correlation of internal and areaaveraged external pressures . Cermak / J. If the building is very slender. 91 (2003) 355–370 363 information listed for a H-FBB test and. This trend has been stimulated because SM-PSSs are available to obtain comprehensive wind-load data  and. with approximate corrections needed for nonlinear shapes . With this information. BLWT tests for wind effects on low-rise buildings have become very active . if the building geometry is very complex. D. Many studies of wind loads on low-rise buildings using SM-PSSs have been made for the purpose of improving building codes and standards. in addition. the number and location of taps required to derive the overall ﬂuctuating wind loads are uncertain. there may be insufﬁcient space in the model to accommodate pressure tubing for a large number of taps. Furthermore. Simultaneously sensed pressures at a large number of locations on modal areas can be processed to obtain time series of instantaneous modal wind loads and their spectra.49]. Use of BLWT tests with SM-PSS data acquisition for creation of pressure databases is expected to increase for some classes of building geometry. and the effects of surroundings on pressures for low-rise buildings  are examples of investigations contributing to building code development. Time series of instantaneous pressure distributions for different wind directions are an essential component of the database. C. the following information and advantages: A. Internal pressures resulting from breached cladding elements and their correlation with external pressures on unbreached cladding elements can be determined from time series of the simultaneous pressure data . Exploratory studies of database-assisted design have demonstrated that such designs can be risk-consistent and may be more resistant to damage as well as more economical . Design pressures for cladding are obtained from the same SM-PSS test data used to determine the wind loads. Studies of wind pressure on roofs of various geometries [40–43]. Use of the SM-PSS test may be questionable for some high-rise buildings. dynamic responses of different modes can be computed  and combined with dynamic background (non-resonant) loading.E.
Wind Eng.3.1. the limited width of wind-tunnel test sections shown in Figs. The system permits simultaneous measurements for all three degrees of freedom. 91 (2003) 355–370 4. section models with two-degrees-of-freedom (vertical and torsional motions) have been used to obtain some of the ﬂutter derivatives needed for analytical studies.E. Aeroelastic-model tests for long-span structures primarily employ two types of models—section models and full-structure models. Transport and deposition of snow by wind. towers. This concern has been addressed by construction of the 41-m wide BLWT shown in Fig.10]. Mean and peak gust wind speeds at outdoor locations of heavy pedestrian use. Phenomena of this nature may result in aeroelastic instability with a possible catastrophic outcome or lesser extreme effects such as unacceptable accelerations and deformations.4. Traditionally.364 J. This has been accomplished using a three-degree-of-freedom suspension system . interaction between the long span(s). structures that are ﬂexible. masts). An encouraging trend resulting from this capability and satisfactory performance of various types of dampers  is that more and more structural engineers are including added damping as part of the design process for tall structures [4. 2. long structures (long-span bridges. . Section-model tests of long-span bridge sections do not account for correlation of gust wind speeds over the bridge length. air-supported roofs. Details and applications of aeroelastic-model tests are well documented for tall structures (buildings. measurement of lateral motion associated with ﬂuctuating drag is required. fabric roofs. transmission lines.1. 4 . and lightly damped fall in this category of wind/structure interaction. low mass. However. 1–3 give rise to concern about Reynolds-number effects because the model scale must be small to ﬁt the test section. Wind-related environmental tests The frequency of BLWT tests to treat wind-related environmental aspects of importance to many civil-engineering projects is increasing rapidly. towers and approach structures. effects of local topography on wind characteristics. cooling towers. sculptures) [53. Aerodyn.3–5. Ind. Through an aeroelastic-model test the level of damping needed to reduce dynamic responses to acceptable magnitudes can be determined for buildings with signiﬁcant NAD. There has been signiﬁcant progress in tests using each type of model for long-span bridges. Cermak / J. chimneys. In order to obtain all of the ﬂutter derivatives involved. 4. cable-supported pipelines) and special structures (cable-supported roofs and curtainwalls. or close proximity to ground and/or water surfaces. The full-bridge aeroelastic model test can account for the effect of these factors on dynamic responses of the bridge.10]. Environmental phenomena most commonly investigated for wind-engineering applications are the following: 1. Generally. Aeroelastic-model tests Aeroelastic-model tests are indispensable for design of civil-engineering structures that experience wind induced deformations and/or motions that in turn tend to increase the wind loads.
4. 4.4.000 to 1:10. Transport and deposition of snow.57]. Topographic effects on wind characteristics.65].000. Winds at locations near or in areas of complex topography can be drastically different from conventional boundary-layer winds. Details of this type of test have been published for simple roof features [56. railways. 91 (2003) 355–370 365 3. Dispersion of air pollutants.1. Physical modeling in BLWTs is the most effective method to investigate dispersion of these efﬂuents [2. Measurement of mean and peak gust wind speeds at many locations within the domain of a site under development is now an integral component of most BLWT tests for wind loads .3.59]. Design and location of exhaust/intake systems to minimize recirculation of pollutants for hospital. Concerns about the wind environment in urban settings has stimulated interest in pedestrian-level winds [62–64]. Tall buildings and closely spaced buildings create strong winds at pedestrian-use areas.4.4. Ind. and structures [58. Toronto. university. and automobiles constitute sources that are most prevalent and troublesome.4. Aerodyn. Wind Eng. Model scales used for this purpose vary from 1:2. and the site surroundings. Dispersion of air pollutants is of concern to civil engineers. 4. Similar tests are being used to locate and evaluate snow fence performance for reduction of snow drifting on highways. A series of BLWT tests to reduce snow drifting on an approach road to the Denver International Airport  is one of several recent studies of this nature. Dispersion of air pollutants by wind. and industrial laboratories using BLWT test data is now common . A few cities including Boston. Brief comments and some references on BLWT testing for each of the foregoing subjects follow. Wind climate in urban areas. Wind characteristics measured at these scales are replicated at scales in the range of 1:200 to 1:500 commonly used in BLWT tests for structures.2.1. and San Francisco require BLWT test data on pedestrian-level winds with and without the new structures in place prior to approval of the proposed development [4. The need to meet this requirement is determined on the basis of project building heights. Frequently this problem is treated by conducting a BLWT test using a topographic model [66–68]. Wind-driven snow can result in snow loads on building roofs of unusual conﬁguration for which building codes prescribe neither magnitudes nor locations.1. industrial stacks. architects. 5. Determination of design winds at such locations poses a major problem for the design engineer.E. 4. the number and spacing of buildings. 4.69]. Topographic effects on wind characteristics.4.4. Efﬂuents from building vents.1. and city planners in efforts to provide acceptable air quality in areas surrounding pollutant sources.1. Pedestrian-level winds. In many instances the depths and locations of roof-top accumulations of simulated snow on model buildings are determined by a BLWT test. New York.J. Cermak / J.
National Physical Laboratory. Exploratory studies indicate that buildingheight distributions.366 J. Reinhold (ed. Conclusions A review of BLWTs and currently available data-acquisition systems reveals that BLWT tests continue to provide ever more comprehensive wind-load information for structural design.  J. 1960. A concentration data bank developed for a line source in one block of an idealized city enables (by superpositions and summations) prediction of concentrations for proposed freeways and/or alternative trafﬁc routings.4. Inc. Studies using BLWT tests reveal that city planning may lead to some features that can be helpful in reducing emission concentrations [71–74].E. England. Cermak. The stimulus for this trend has been development and widespread use of the H-FBB and the SM-PSS.4. Department of Scientiﬁc and Industrial Research. Wind climate in cities is of great concern during low wind speeds accompanied by an elevated temperature inversion. Report NPL/Aero/411. Cambridge University Press.1. 5. building spacing. The effects of wind on distribution of automobile emissions in city canyons have been studied by physical modeling .5. This condition results in development of high concentrations of automobile exhausts. Wind Tunnel Modeling for Civil Engineering Applications. Maryland. Modeling criteria and procedures for BLWT studies of dispersion are presented in the literature [2. Fluids Eng. and direction of the approach wind should be taken into consideration to minimize adverse effects of urbanization . 50pp.). The use of wind tunnels in industrial aerodynamic research. Wind Eng. architects. References  C. England. 1982. served to provide a broad perspective for preparation of this review.72]. While applications of BLWT test data in civil-engineering practice have been most common for wind effects on structures.A. applications to urban environmental problems of pedestrian-level winds and air quality are becoming equally common. Capabilities of BLWT tests to quantify wind effects on structures and the urban environment are stimulating close working relationships between structural engineers. 688pp. Gaithersburg. Gloria Garza. Scruton. Aerodyn. Teddington. 91 (2003) 355–370 practice . ASME 97 (1975) 9–38.  T. Cermak / J. and city planners.3. Application of ﬂuid mechanics to wind engineering — A Freeman Scholar Lecture. London.E. Compilation of the manuscript was accomplished by Ms. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Wind Tunnel Modeling Criteria and Techniques in Civil Engineering Applications. 4. Ind. Urban wind climate. . J. Acknowledgements Discussions with colleagues at CPP.
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