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We're working to [INAUDIBLE] this wind tunnel
on an experiment that's testing ducted wind turbine power
output, and specific trailing edge
devices that will increase the power output of a ducted wind
We're looking to see if these trailing edge devices are going
to something that can be feasibly used
on full-scale ducted wind turbines.
Just because the issue with wind energy
is that at the current moment you're
not able to produce enough power for it
to become a feasible energy option,
so you have to look at ways to increase
the efficiency of the wind turbine
to increase the power output.
The Wright brothers' wind tunnel was built over 75 years ago.
In fact, it was inaugurated in 1938
and it was built to meet the growing need
to test faster and larger aircraft
that were being designed and produced at that time.
If we go back historically, the first tunnel, in fact
the first building in the MIT campus,
was a wind tunnel that was built by Jerome Hunsaker.
And that was actually a tunnel that was used here in Cambridge
for a number of years, together with other smaller tunnels
that were built.
So the wind tunnel is powered by an electric drive.
It's 2,000 horse power.
It has a six blade, 13-foot diameter variable pitch fan.
It's what's called a variable density tunnel.
It's the only one of its kind in the country that's
not owned by NASA.
Originally the tunnel was capable of 400 miles an hour.
It didn't achieve that for very long.
It produced so much noise, I'm told.
I'd never heard it.
But in the fourth speed, which is the highest
speed it can go, at 400 miles an hour,
it could be heard all the way to Beacon Hill from here,
which is a couple of miles, a couple of miles east of here.
So it must have been quite noisy.
One of the interesting little facts of the tunnel
is that the door is actually the door off a submarine.
The company that built the original shelf for the tunnel
was ship builders, local ship builders.
And when they found out that we needed a pressure
door for the tunnel, they decided
to just use a standard submarine pressure door.
So when I first came here in 1990,
there was a heavy emphasis on architectural aerodynamics.
Frank Durgin, my predecessor, was
one of the real pioneers in that area.
And they were doing a lot of different buildings,
and that was kind of interesting to do.
It was something that I had never seen done.
I think of wind tunnels as being sort of aircraft design-type
devices, and the architectural side
was rather interesting to see.
I first took over the wind tunnel in July of 1969.
And looking at the room now, it's
fabulous because there was no room to hardly sit down
in the test room, and the office next door
was so full of filing cabinets and old models
that there was no place to put a desk,
or for anybody to sit down.
You've got to have somebody over here who's
only responsibility is the wind tunnel,
and who cares to keep it looking like this,
and to know where all of the odd things are.
If you don't do that, the students come in
and they just don't understand that you
have to worry about the history, as well as what's
going on at the present moment.
And this is the test section of the tunnel.
The test section is 7 and 1/2 feet tall, 10 feet wide,
15 feet long.
And the flow comes from this direction down, that way.
This is actually the smallest part of the wind tunnel.
The tunnel gets progressively larger as you go around.
Tunnel kind of looks like a donut lying on its side.
And the air continually circulates around.
Primarily the tunnel is a student tunnel.
The students of first call on it.
If an undergraduate needs the tunnel
for any particular undergraduate purpose,
they can literally take the tunnel away
from the NASA guys, or the commercial guys.
Everybody kind of understands that.
The rule is that the students have first call.
Oh, but all what one can see that the use
has changed significantly from its original intent.
And one of the things that has been common
throughout the years is that in addition
to being used for research and to advance
the state of knowledge, it has always been used for education.
And, in fact, education is nowadays its primary use.
That the tunnel has become an iconic landmark.
When we had the 150th MIT celebration,
the tunnel was one of the most visited attractions.
Literally thousands of people went through the tunnel
and were able to realize its history and the important role
that it has played for the department and, in many ways,
for the nation and for MIT.