The 12-fan Wall of Wind (WOW) at FIU is the largest and most powerful university research facility of its kind and is capable of simulating a Category 5 hurricane – the highest rating on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. For more than a decade, FIU researchers and engineers have planned, designed and redesigned numerous concepts and models that have all contributed to the science and technology behind this state-of-the-art machine.
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.