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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X012069/1
Title: UK National Wind Tunnel Facility
Principal Investigator: Morrison, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Aeronautics
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Network
Starts: 01 October 2022 Ends: 30 September 2025 Value (£): 813,450
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Aerodynamics Fluid Dynamics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
EP/X011836/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
17 Aug 2022 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 17 and 18 August 2022 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
NWTF (http://www.nwtf.ac.uk/) is a UK leader and, over the next five years, will become a global leader in delivering cutting-edge science across a networked range of unique facilities in experimental fluid mechanics addressing the grand challenges of clean growth and the future of mobility across aerospace, automotive and civil engineering sectors. Through efficient and nimble organisation, it will provide strategic, coordinated oversight with an industrially aligned approach in the generation of new, net-zero technologies and knowledge in the efficiency of fluid-based systems, H2 and electric/hybrid transport, fluid-structure interaction, heating, noise, contaminant dispersion, particle transmission (Covid-19) and human factors, wind loading, coastal erosion and offshore renewables. NWTF continues to provide cutting-edge research, with its capacity measured by outputs and will augment this 'delta' in terms of new science, research capacity and pace. It enables the development of new skills in original, challenging, highly relevant experiments, the provision of new data and the establishment of "digital threads" for AI, modelling and the rapid adoption of innovative techniques such as remote access and robotics. With an inclusive approach, NWTF provides interconnected facilities of world-class capability that are open to all UK-based researchers. In this way, NWTF provides a unified approach that is greater than the sum of its individual facilities, offering a single point of contact for industry, driving an innovation pipeline for a pull-through environment.

The NWTF is a hub and node organisation with 23 wind tunnels across 12 universities (nodes) and a centralised Project Manager (hub) who coordinates initiatives on behalf of the group. It has a Management Board (MB) comprising one member from each institution along with the Project Manager. It meets quarterly receiving inputs from a cross-disciplinary, international Advisory Board (AB) which meets bi-annually. The AB consists mostly of experimental aerodynamicists from industry as well as academic colleagues, including those with interests in numerical prediction.

Since 2014, NWTF has grown a community, most recently through eight community-wide subgroups on a range of topics; participation is open to all. These online meetings are attended by over 40 academic and industrial participants from the UK, US, Europe, Australia and Japan, demonstrating the potential for NWTF to take the lead internationally. This leadership role has highlighted the need for network events specific to wind tunnels that capture relevant topics, including remote access; multi-purpose and future wind tunnels; development of an experimental database for CFD; new, novel instrumentation; training workshops; researcher mobility and shared best practice for tunnel managers. A further subgroup focuses on joint research projects usually with one key industry but focusing on pre-competitive science. Current subgroups operate with Boeing, QinetiQ, Airbus, DSTL, BAE, JLR and ARUP participation.

A key aspect of this proposal is the dissemination of high quality experimental data which are expensive and time-consuming to create. Their availability will be publicised and the data curated so that they are easily accessible and can be exploited by other stakeholders in a range of inter-disciplinary application areas. The network will build upon UKRI policies in making research data open access. It will ensure that best practice is exchanged across the community, with consistent ways of defining meta-data, data formats and maintaining relevance through long-term sustainability. The availability of high-quality data is crucial for the exploitation of new technologies such as AI and machine learning for development of aerodynamic models used in both prediction and control. World-wide, there are no other comparable wind-tunnel data dissemination activities.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Impacts
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk