Fla. University and AIR Work toward Understanding of Hurricane Vulnerabilities

AIR Worldwide Corporation is collaborating with the International Hurricane Research Center and the College of Engineering and Computing at Florida International University and will fund the installation of the “AIR Turntable” for the “RenaissanceRe Wall of Wind” hurricane simulator.

“Just as the effective monitoring of car crash tests drastically changed automobile safety through the introduction of air bags, the IHRC research team intends to do the same for the housing industry through full-scale testing of buildings and their components,” said Director Stephen P. Leatherman.

The AIR Turntable is a computer controlled, mechanical platform which will be used to better evaluate extreme wind loading conditions by facilitating the testing of buildings at different angles of attack. The AIR Turntable will be programmed to simulate directionality-change effects on test structures.

“The WOW testing aided by the capabilities of the AIR Turntable will revolutionize our residential and commercial construction and retrofitting practices and lead to more effective methods of strengthening buildings against extreme winds,” Leatherman said.

The WOW structure includes an array of six industrial fans capable of replicating Category 4 hurricane conditions with winds up to 140 mph. The simulation will allow scientists to study the impact of hurricane-force winds and wind-driven precipitation on a variety of building types and materials, as well as construction methods.

The AIR Turntable is part of the WOW facility which is being constructed on the Engineering campus of Florida International University. The state-of-the art testing facility will enable full-scale structural testing.

By eliminating scaling errors, full-scale testing provides a more realistic simulation, which is crucial to better understanding the effects of extreme winds on buildings, materials, and construction methods. Although several universities, private industries, and government laboratories have experimental and testing facilities for wind engineering, no other facility in the U.S. is currently capable of testing full-scale buildings to destruction.

“AIR is committed to researching mitigation technologies in order to reduce the vulnerability of properties in extreme wind events such as hurricanes,” said Jayanta Guin, senior vice president of research and modeling at AIR Worldwide. “The findings from this research project should lead to improved mitigation strategies and better building methods, which will ultimately help reduce economic losses from future catastrophes.”

The testing facility is slated to be completed in late Summer 2007. The WOW project is also supported by Renaissance Reinsurance Holdings Ltd. and the State of Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Source: Business Wire