Aerolab has designed and built the updated MIT Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel. The original Wright Brothers tunnel was dedicated in September 1938 and in need of modifications to better meet the demand for state of the art testing capabilities. The tunnel design marks the first of its kind– a new concept in ultra-compact wind tunnels–that reduces size and cost. The upgrade to the facility makes it the most advanced academic wind tunnel in the United States at the time of its completion.
The tunnel has a test area volume of 1600 ft3 (45 m3) and a test section area of 80 ft2 (7.4 m2). It now features increased test speeds, from the previous 150 mph (241 km/h) to 230 mph (322km/h). Increased efficiency has halved the power requirements of the original 2,000 horsepower fan motor.
The new facility has improved research data acquisition capabilities. Increased test section volume means an improved ability to test autonomous vehicles (“drones”) and aerodynamic components including wings, bodies, and wind turbines; and enable new MIT classes in advanced aerodynamics and fluid mechanics.