NASA Glenn Flow Visualization Tunnel
Aerodynamicists use wind tunnels to test
of proposed aircraft. The model is placed in the test section of the tunnel
and air is made to flow past the model.
Some wind tunnel tests are used to determine the
aerodynamic forces on the model.
Some wind tunnel tests are designed to provide information about the flow
of air around the model. There are a variety of techniques that are used to
visualize the flow around the model, including laser sheets, oil flow, tufting,
and interferometry. One of the oldest techniques is to use
into the tunnel upstream of the model.
Here is a picture of a
undergoing smoke tunnel testing.
You can see the smoke swirl as it passes the leading edge of the
wing on the far side of the tunnel. You can watch a
of this experiment which shows the motion of the smoke over the wing.
Thanks to Dwayne Hunt for the production of the movie clip.
During the Centennial of Flight celebration, Dwayne Hunt and Carol Galica
of the NASA Glenn Research Center
developed plans for the construction of a small flow visualization wind tunnel.
The tunnel pumps streams of smoke across a variety of small models.
A picture of the completed tunnel is shown at the top of this page.
Step-by-step instructions (1.64 MB pdf file) for building the flow visualization wind tunnel are available from this
web page, by clicking on the yellow button:
It requires moderate shop skills with hand tools, but less than $100 worth of materials to build the tunnel.
Photographs detail the construction process.
The tunnel can be used as part of a science fair project,
or used to study how air flows past a variety of models.
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