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Wind dome reproduces tornadoes

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

March 18, 2011 — A hexagonal-shaped dome will help scientists better understand the power of wind.

WindEEE is the first hexagonal wind tunnel in the world
WindEEE is the first hexagonal wind tunnel in the world

It's the first wind tunnel of its kind and the University of Western Ontario in London is home to the latest technology.

“WindEEE stands for wind engineering, energy and environmental dome,” says Dr. Horia Hangan with the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Western University.

WindEEE is a hexagonal-shaped wind tunnel that's essentially a weather machine trying to create certain types of wind systems.

“We have nothing to reproduce tornadoes, downbursts and so on, so this is going to do exactly that for us,” explains Dr Hangan. He says the hexagon-shape allows the team to create tornado-like wind conditions as opposed to a traditional tunnel that would just blow air in a straight line.

“We know that we can probably reproduce an F4 and below,” says Dr. Hangan.

Insurance claims after a powerful windstorm can get costly and this new technology will help scientists understand the power of the wind.

“We learned during the last six years that 65 percent of the damage to buildings in North America (in interior North America, so if I take away the coastal regions) is due to local storm systems like thunderstorms, downbursts, microbursts, tornadoes, gusts, jets,” notes Dr. Hangan.

The dome will also be used to study wind turbines in an effort to improve the design of wind turbines and power output.

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