Virginia Tech’s Stability Wind Tunnel has a rich history, beginning with roots in the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA, to its move to the Blacksburg campus in the 1950s. The tunnel is known as the largest university-owned anechoic wind tunnel in the United States.

Over the past 15 years, the wind tunnel has become an internationally recognized leader in aerodynamic testing and in measurement of sound made by flows though its unique capabilities and novel arrangement, which has been emulated by a rapidly growing number of facilities worldwide.

In order to stay on the forefront of innovation, Virginia Tech's Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering has entered into a three-year partnership with the NASA Langley Research Center as part of the agency's Transformational Tools and Technologies grant program.

As part of this dual-lead strategic effort, the tunnel will undergo modifications and investments in instrumentation to enable and generate benchmark validation datasets at unprecedented completeness. Such adjustments could possibly be recognized as a landmark dataset for validation, benefitting commercial aerospace companies, government sponsored research, and industrial customers.

“The tunnel and department are making a strategic decision to commit significant resources to support this study, which seeks to establish a new standard for completeness in our search for truth in aerodynamics,” said William Devenport, professor of aerospace and ocean engineering and director of the Stability Wind Tunnel. “This investment is also will position Virginia Tech as pioneers as we accelerate flow research to a new paradigm.”

The tunnel’s research group, which includes Virginia Tech undergraduate and graduate students, is led by Devenport and Todd Lowe, associate professor of aerospace and ocean engineering. The group is collaborating with NASA Langley Research Center to conduct benchmark experiments for turbulence modeling validation, aiming to reduce uncertainty and produce fundamental research experiments at the highest level of accuracy.

The goal of this study, under NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies grant program, is to produce detailed experimental datasets that, for the first time, meet the most exacting requirements of computational fluid dynamics validation. Through carefully controlled testing and by taking detailed measurements, Virginia Tech researchers will be able understand the flow of air and water at a much more detailed level of completeness.