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Civil Aerodynamics
Civil aerodynamics (sometimes known as wind engineering) is the science involved with the study the effect of wind on buildings and other civil structures. Wind tunnel testing is an essential tool for this discipline, being the IDR/UPM a reference centre in this area since the early 90s in Spain.
There are different tunnel test designs, mostly defined by scientific goals or the necessity of the industry. Generally speaking, a typical wind tunnel test of a civil structure takes approximately five weeks, from the first arrangement with the customer to the delivery of the first results.
The measuring instruments commonly used in a wind tunnel are pressure sensors, force balances and velocimetry systems.
IDR/UPM has several multichannel pressure systems for simultaneous reading capability of 552 pressure taps. The institute offers several 3- and 6- component balances (Hall effect, strain gauges and piezoelectric) which cover a wide range of measurements.
Regarding wind speed measurements, the following instruments are available for testing: Pitot tubes, hot-wire anemometry, laser anemometry, particle tracking velocimetry (Particle Image Velocimetry, PIV) and three-dimensional five-hole Pitot tubes.
There are two workshops (one at each campus) where models are built to be tested. Beside the usual tools in typical workshops, at IDR/UPM it is also possible to manufacture models with a numerically controlled milling machine, stamping hot forming tools, and 3D printers to create the testing models according to specifications agreed with the customers.
The most common tests performed in the large wind tunnel facilities are:
  • Static loads in buildings or singular structures.
  • Dynamic loads.
  • Wind studies in pedestrian areas.
  • Wake measurement.