FIU wind engineering team (Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research – LWER) has built a full-scale “Wall of Wind” (WoW) facility funded entirely by the insurance industry and matching from the State of Florida. The insurance industry views WoW as revolutionary to wind engineering as crash testing was to the automobile industry, which led to airbags and other safety features. The engineering community likens WoW to shake table testing that has led to performance-based earthquake engineering. FIU-WoW facility has the following features:
FIU showcased its 2-fan WoW system at Full-Scale Testing and Measurements workshop in March 2007 with delegates from NSF, US and Canadian schools and industry. The prototype 2-fan mobile unit generates 120 mph winds with a water-injection system simulating horizontal rain. Tests were done on light commercial roofs, barrel tile roofs, and rainwater intrusion under eaves. A larger, more powerful RenaissanceRe 6-fan WoW (sponsored by RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd.) generates up to 130 mph winds to engulf a single-story residence. To house the system, a 100 ft x 80 ft x 35 ft building has been constructed at FIU Engineering Center. Test models will be mounted on a turn-table (sponsored by Applied Insurance Research ‘AIR’ Worldwide) to study wind-rain-debris effects at different angles of attack. Dynamic rotation of the turntable allows study of wind directionality effects. Additional $2M funding was provided by state legislature to enhance WoW to electric fans system. The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress provided additional support for the WoW enhancement endeavor. The new electrical fan system will comprise of 12 fans producing a jet with sustained wind speed of 140 mph. The mean and turbulence wind parameters, closely matching hurricane characteristics, will be achieved through the application of special flow management devices. RWDI, leading wind engineering consulting services firm, is the consultant for WoW expansion phase.