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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Highly Portable Wind Tunnel for Field Use

Authors
item Van Pelt, Robert
item Zobeck, Teddy

Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 13, 2005
Publication Date: August 2, 2005
Citation: Van Pelt, R.S., Zobeck, T.M. 2005. A highly portable wind tunnel for field use[abstract]. Soil and Water Conservation Society.

Interpretive Summary: Wind tunnels have been used to study wind erosion of soil for several decades. In addition to large wind tunnels built in laboratories, portable wind tunnels for use on natural soil surfaces have also been used. Many of these portable tunnels require hydraulic lifts to set in place, heavy trucks to transport, and several people to operate. We have designed and built a highly portable field wind tunnel that can be transported on a 16 foot tandem trailer, pulled by a half-ton pickup, and operated by two people. We built the tunnel test sections and flow conditioning sections from aluminum so that they would weigh less than 26 kg (60 lbs) each and be easily moved by hand. We plan to use this wind tunnel to test the erodibility of soil surfaces in many regions of North America.

Technical Abstract: The management of vegetation and soil surfaces has a profound impact on the landscape’s susceptibility to wind erosion and fugitive dust production. The wind erosion susceptibility of surfaces is commonly tested under controlled and repeatable conditions using a field wind tunnel. Field wind tunnel designs have varied from small units that can be moved and operated by an individual to large trailer mounted tunnels requiring tractors and hydraulic cranes to move and deploy. We have constructed a pusher-type field wind tunnel that is very portable, can be moved and deployed by two persons, and yet maintains many of the advantages of larger tunnels. The Big Spring field wind tunnel is self contained and fits on a tandem car trailer 5m long and 2m wide. The tunnel is driven by a radial fan capable of producing 8.5 m3 s-1 of air flow through the 0.5m wide by 1m tall all-aluminum conditioning and test sections resulting in a maximum average flow velocity of 17 m s-1. A 0.25m long flow straightening section containing aluminum honeycomb is attached to the 2m long closed-floor flow conditioning section 0.7m in front of the replaceable tripping fence that is 0.4m in front of the abrader drop chutes. An additional 0.9m of conditioning section allows saltation to initiate before flow enters the test section. Test section modules have open floors, are 2m long, and can be joined to form a test section of desired length. Flow and performance data will be presented.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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