FIU’s 12-fan Wall of Wind (WOW) is among seven national multi-user large facilities in the country under the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program, and one of only two nationwide dedicated to studying extreme wind events. The WOW is the largest and most powerful university research facility of its kind, capable of simulating Category 5 hurricane winds. National Science Foundation funded researchers use the “Experimental Facility” to work on wind engineering projects, and are part of a network of scientists who study various aspects of natural hazards.
The first prototype, created by experts from FIU’s wind engineering team, was assembled in 2005. The original 2-fan mobile unit could generate 120 mph winds with a water-injection system to simulate horizontal rain. This paved the way for a larger RenaissanceRe 6-fan WOW with the ability to simulate hurricane wind characteristics and engulf large-scale structures.
Now, due to increased demand for higher wind speed testing, FIU has taken yet another step forward with its 12-fan WOW. The new system is capable of performing controlled and repeatable to-scale testing in flows that replicate the same CAT 5 level winds as both hurricanes Katrina and Andrew. This facility will not only fill the void where most current wind-structure experiments fail, it has the potential to be as influential to wind engineering as crash testing was to the automobile industry.