U. of Fla. Researchers Halt Hurricane with Flick of Switch

August 15, 2007

Roaring winds top 100 mph and rains fall in heavy sheets, but Forrest Masters can stop the storm at the flick of a switch with his newly completed hurricane simulator.

Masters and a group of University of Florida in Gainesville researchers recently completed the 2,800-horsepower simulator, which powers eight 5-foot-tall fans and includes four yacht engines mounted on a trailer. They’re testing the simulator on vacant homes, hoping to learn the best ways to keep structures from breaking up in an actual hurricane, Florida Today reported.

Engineers say the simulator will show how to block wind and water intrusion which tore up windows, doors and roof coverings during the 2004 storms. Improved codes prevented catastrophic building failures that year, but not the wind and water intrusion.

The $500,000 hurricane simulator is among the largest of it’s kind in the world. It’s engines spin pumps which drive fluid through the fans’ motors.

At full power, the fans turn at about 1,800 revolutions per minute. A custom-built duct shrinks the space available for the air to flow through, increasing winds up to a potential 130 mph.

Water jets implanted in the vanes can simulate up to 35 inches of rain per hour.


Information from: Florida Today, http://www.floridatoday.com

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