The OSU BAE lab has very rare and unusual piece of equipment. Hidden away in a room on the south end of the building is a large wooden-frame wind tunnel. This beautifully made wood wind tunnel has a test section that is 4 ft. high by 4 ft. wide and 40 ft. long.
The wind speeds are adjustable from zero to about 20 meters per second (45 mph). Wind tunnels outside of aerospace departments are rare.
While the Wright brothers will be primarily remembered for the first powered flight they also invented the first practical propeller. This was accomplished by testing various shapes in a small wind tunnel. The brothers also used the tunnel to design efficient wings. Their use of the wind tunnel was revolutionary. The wind tunnel allows static experiments to be done in moving air streams – usually with scaled-down models.
The BAE wind tunnel is used mostly for wind erosion, wind effects on chemical soil and plant applications, wind effects on fluid nozzles, wind forces on structures (silos, etc.), turbulence around structures and wind turbine performance testing.
Drs. Frazier and Kumar use the tunnel several times per year for demonstrating the fundamentals of wind turbine operation to university and 4-H students (see pictures below). Scaled-down wind turbine generators are placed in the tunnel and the air speeds are varied while the small turbine electrical power output is monitored. This demonstrates the “Cubed Fan Laws” where power output varies by the cube of the air speed. Students are also able to experiment with different wind turbine blade design and test them in the tunnel. At an EPSCoR workshop held in the summer of 2011 a competition was held to see who could come up with the best performing turbine blades (power output – see pictures below).
The wind tunnel is used each spring semester for teaching two courses, “BAE 1022-Experimental methods” and “BAE 3213-Energy and Power”.

For contact information or more information about these facilities and research, please use the link below.

R. Scott Frazier
Ajay Kumar