National Wind Institute
|National Wind Institute|
|Location||Lubbock, Texas, U.S.|
The National Wind Institute (NWI) at Texas Tech University (TTU) was established in December 2012, and is intended to serve as Texas Tech University’s intellectual hub for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, commercialization and education related to wind science, wind energy, wind engineering and wind hazard mitigation and serves faculty affiliates, students, and external partners. The vision of the NWI is to stimulate discovery and innovation, provide and implement solutions to wind-related problems, establish multi-dimensional partnerships, and educate the next generation of wind workforce and researchers. NWI delivers and manages a wide suite of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including professional development activities and on-line courses.
Based on more than 40 years of research, the NWI (formerly the Wind Science and Engineering [WiSE] Research Center) represents the nation’s leading university wind-focused research and education enterprise.
In 2003, with support from the National Science Foundation, the first interdisciplinary Ph.D. program dedicated to wind science and engineering was developed. Later, the Texas Wind Energy Institute (TWEI) was established, and is a partnership between TTU and Texas State Technical College designed to develop education and career pathways to meet workforce and educational needs of the expanding wind energy industry. Partly funded by the Texas Workforce Commission, TWEI’s vision is to provide leadership in most areas of wind energy education for the industry. In an effort to streamline and to promote synergy, both WiSE and TWEI have now integrated to form the National Wind Institute. The time is right to expand our wind research; our rich TTU history proves longevity, and the numerous interdisciplinary public/private partnerships and projects are supported by our unique suite of research facilities and the abundant regional natural wind resources. Support for these cutting-edge facilities comes in the form of expert technical and administrative staff, a select group of hard-working and focused students, and renowned faculty with ground-breaking ideas and the skills to make it happen.
NWI organizes and administers large multi-dimensional TTU wind-related research projects and serves as the contact point for major project sponsors and other external partners. These projects span from wind turbine research to our debris impact facility testing. Having a space to collaborate with our partners is critical to our interdisciplinary work, and for the support of faculty affiliates and students. Thus, NWI manages and operates several research facilities as well as a 67-acre research field site to support atmospheric, engineering, along with other necessary disciplines to better understand wind energy and hazards mitigation.
The Wind Science and Engineering Research Center was established in 1970 as the Institute for Disaster Research, following the F5 Lubbock tornado that caused 26 fatalities and over $100 million in damage. Following the aftermath of the tornado, the WISE center developed the first comprehensive wind engineering report of its kind. In 2006, the Enhanced Fujita scale was developed at TTU to update the original Fujita scale that was first introduced in 1971. In 2003, with support from the National Science Foundation, the first interdisciplinary Ph.D. program dedicated to wind science and engineering was developed. Later, the Texas Wind Energy Institute (TWEI) was established as a partnership between TTU and Texas State Technical College designed to develop education and career pathways to meet workforce and educational needs of the expanding wind energy industry. Partly funded by the Texas Work Commission, TWEI's vision was to provide leadership in most areas of wind energy education for the industry. A Bachelor's degree program in Wind Energy was opened in Spring 2012 and now has more than 100 students in the process of completing the degree requirements.
In an effort to streamline and to promote synergy, both WiSE and TWEI have now integrated to form the National Wind Institute (NWI).
The Texas Tech campus hosts the NWI's administrative offices and the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel and Wind Library. The Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel is a closed wind tunnel offering a 1.8 m (5.9 ft) by 1.2 m (3.9 ft) test section that is capable of producing up winds speeds of up to 45 m/s (100 mph). The facility also hosts VorTECH, a tornado vortex simulator and a Pulsed Jet Wind tunnel, which is used to simulate thunderstorm downbursts. The NWI's Wind Library hosts one of the largest collections of wind related material in the world. The collection includes Ted Fujita's papers, reports and photographs, which were donated by the Fujita family and the University of Chicago. The library also includes documentation of more than 100 wind storms.
The National Wind Institute occupies 56,000 square feet (5,200 m2) of indoor laboratory space and has a large 67-acre field test site at the Reese Technology Center. Some of the facilities housed at the Reese Center include a 200 meter data acquisition tower, used to measure and record atmospheric conditions at ten levels, the Debris Impact Facility, the Scaled Wind Farm Technology SWiFT facility and a weather balloon facility. The Reese Center is also home to several radar systems including a SODAR, Low Level Profiler, and the SMART-R Mobile Radar.
Additionally, NWI runs the Mobile StickNet platform network which is a student-developed versatile rapid-deployment 2.5 m meteorological observing platform used to monitor storms and hurricanes as they happen and relay information in real-time to decision makers. Called "StickNet" for its resemblance to a stick figure, the 24 platforms function as autonomous mobile observing networks capable of gathering a variety of meteorological information including dryline properties, urban wind flows, density currents, synoptic wind events and terrain-induced flows. Each platform can be deployed by two individuals in a manner of minutes allowing personnel to relocate to safer ground and leave the instruments in place. This allows the collection of valuable storm data without risk to personnel.
Some of the National Wind Institute's wind energy research goals are the assessment of the risk and effects on wind turbine exposure to extreme wind events, the improvement of wind turbine design codes with emphasis on extreme wind events, and the analysis and testing of utility-scale wind turbines for use in less-energetic wind conditions. The NWI is also focused on the identification of advanced wind-driven water treatment and desalination systems for municipal and other applications, as well as the full scale testing of wind-driven water desalination systems and the development of modeling codes for integrated wind-water desalination systems.
The NWI performs tests on storm shelters and their various components to see if they meet established Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Storm Shelter Association guidelines. The Debris Impact Facility houses a high-powered air cannon (nick-named the "potato gun on steroids") that shoots wooden two-by-fours at shelter walls and doors to simulate flying debris. The cannon is capable of producing simulated wind speeds of more than 250 mph and provides valuable impact resistance data. Such data is used to develop standards for safe above-ground and below-ground shelters, and continues to be in demand for testing new shelter materials and constructions.
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- "Debris impact cannon". ttu.edu. Retrieved 2014-03-24.