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Wind and Structures
  Volume 13, Number 1, January 2010 , pages 21-36

Computational assessment of blockage and wind simulator proximity effects for a new full-scale testing facility
Girma T. Bitsuamlak, Agerneh Dagnew and Arindam Gan Chowdhury

    A new full scale testing apparatus generically named the Wall of Wind (WoW) has been built by the researchers at the International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC) at Florida International University (FIU). WoW is capable of testing single story building models subjected up to category 3 hurricane wind speeds. Depending on the relative model and WoW wind field sizes, testing may entail blockage issues. In addition, the proximity of the test building to the wind simulator may also affect the aerodynamic data. This study focuses on the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) assessment of the effects on the quality of the aerodynamic data of (i) blockage due to model buildings of various sizes and (ii) wind simulator proximity for various distances between the wind simulator and the test building. The test buildings were assumed to have simple parallelepiped shapes. The computer simulations were performed under both finite WoW wind-field conditions and in an extended Atmospheric Boundary Layer (ABL) wind flow. Mean pressure coefficients for the roof and the windward and leeward walls served as measures of the blockage and wind simulator proximity effects. The study uses the commercial software FLUENT with Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes equations and a Renormalization Group (RNG) k-? turbulence model. The results indicated that for larger size test specimens (i.e. for cases where the height of test specimen is larger than one third of the wind field height) blockage correction may become necessary. The test specimen should also be placed at a distance greater than twice the height of the test specimen from the fans to reduce proximity effect.
Key Words
    full scale testing; blockage; wind simulator proximity; CFD; pressure coefficient; turbulence.
Girma T. Bitsuamlak, Agerneh Dagnew and Arindam Gan Chowdhury; Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research, International Hurricane Research Center, Department of
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Florida International University, Miami, Florida 33174, USA.

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