The University of Western Ontario (UWO) received $9.5 million in funding from the Canada Foundations for Innovation (CFI) to build the WindEEE Dome, the world’s first six-sided wind tunnel able to simulate a tornado. WindEEE (which stands for wind Engineering, Energy and Environment) will use a series of giant fans to simulate an F3 tornado approximately six metres in size.
The facility will be able to test the vulnerabilities of structures, power lines, agricultural crops, forests and wind turbines against the swirling winds associated with tornadoes, and the powerful winds resulting from downdrafts. The dome could also be used to track the spread of pollutants over wide areas.
Dr. Horia Hangan, a director of UWO’s Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel (BLWT) said the WindEEE dome will reinforce the university’s reputation in wind research. “This intention is to make Western a world leader in this area,” he said. He hopes construction of the facility will begin in a year and will be in operation a year or two later. The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) fully supports the WindEEE Dome project, which it believes will fill a void in the area of wind engineering research. ICLR is affiliated with UWO and has been working with the wind engineering team there for a number of years.