How to Leverage The Best Of Both Wind Tunnel Testing And CFD

Posted on February 21, 2023


Building design and construction is a complicated process that includes a variety of variables and elements that must be taken into account to ensure performance, comfort and safety. The evaluation of wind loads on buildings and structures, which can significantly affect their stability, performance and overall efficiency, is one of the most crucial steps. They give engineers and designers the knowledge they need to make accurate and informed assumptions when progressing from design concept to detailed design of the building from landscape design to the design of the façade and structure.

Physically replicating wind actions on buildings and other structures is done in wind tunnel testing. A wind flow structure is set up in the wind tunnel that simulates the behaviour of the real wind at the same scale as that of the model. Wind Engineers can utilise this information to accurately observe how the structure responds to the wind loads. The capacity to quantify physical forces and deformations directly, as well as the ability to see and examine the wind flows around the structure, are all benefits of wind tunnel testing.

On the other hand, CFD testing is a numerical way of simulating wind loads on structures and buildings. This kind of testing is frequently carried out with the aid of computer software, which computes the wind flow around the subject building using mathematical models. When assessing the combined effect of wind and thermal effects, snow or rain, which are challenging to model using wind tunnel testing, CFD testing offers a highly detailed, three-dimensional representation of the combined effect of these various elements. However not all CFD modelling is the same and the more accurate modelling required complex turbulence models, a fine computation mesh and time steps, all of which require significant time and computational resources. Windtech is able to overcome the limitations of computation time by using a very significant size computation cluster. Windtech has been able to demonstrate that with such care and fine resolution, it is possible to model the flow around buildings to match those from wind tunnel results. However, there are still limitations in the accuracy of CFD when it comes to assessing the dynamic wind actions on façade and structures, particularly when the subject building is located within the vicinity of other buildings.

Hence the two techniques are complementary and each has its role in informing the design team in relation to the effect of wind on occupant comfort as well its effect on the structure and façade.

Our team of professionals at Windtech Consultants have contributed substantially to the standards that govern the practice of wind engineering and include world leaders in both wind tunnel testing methodologies and CFD. We can assist in recommending to you the best options to match your requirements and what is most appropriate for your project.

Need help with an upcoming project? Don’t hesitate to contact our dedicated Global Wind Engineering team, who will gladly assist. With offices in Sydney & Melbourne, Australia, London, UK, and Mumbai, India. New York & Miami, USA, Dubai, Hong Kong & Singapore, we guarantee to support you wherever you are based.

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