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SUMMARY REPORT
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Aerodynamics Laboratory Assessment Summary Report

DATE: March 13 - 16, 2006
CHAIRPERSON: Tim Reinhold, PhD
Vice President of Engineering
Institute for Business and Home Safety

EXPERT/PEER REVIEW PANEL MEMBERS:

Leighton Cochran, PhD
Senior Associate
CPP, Inc.

Peter King, PhD
Director
The University of Western Ontario
The Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Lab

Robert L. Wardlaw, P.Eng.
Consultant

Timothy McDowell, P.E.
State Programming Engineer
Wyoming DOT

Facilitator

Barbara T. Harder
B.T. Harder, Inc

Overview of Laboratory

Hal Bosch Aerodynamics Lab Manager 202-493-3031 Harold.Bosch@fhwa.dot.gov

PURPOSE

The Aerodynamics Laboratory participates in and directs the study of the complex interactions between wind and bridges, bridge components or other highway structures.

DESCRIPTION

The Aerodynamics Laboratory is the only wind-tunnel facility in the United States that is dedicated solely to the study of wind effects on transportation structures. It has the longest continuous history of exploring bridge aerodynamics to ensure the performance and safety of long-span bridges in strong winds and to advance our understanding of wind effects on transportation structures.

Key Strengths and Observations

  • Congressional funding has hurt TFHRC abilities
  • Expertise in North America is available to do what has to be done in other aerodynamic laboratory facilities
  • TFHRC has been the leader in the pooled fund study for cable vibration issues for the states
  • Relevancy for future: not in the laboratory wind tunnels
  • The panel has been impressed as a result of telephone interviews with the important role that the laboratory plays in responding to the concerns of state engineers about problems of cable vibration and with their respect for the knowledge of Harold Bosch and the effective response he provides.
    • Satisfied customers
    • External stakeholders: saw a continued need for aerodynamic expertise at TFHRC
    • A knowledge source for DOTs
    • Most have felt that the Aerodynamics TFHRC Lab has been very helpful in responding to State needs.
    • Have saved them lots of money by providing solutions to major long span problems.
    • Not sure what they would do without the resource that is available through FHWA Aerodynamics TFHRC Lab.
    • FHWA division engineers have praise for the lab. Without it they were not sure what they would do to get answers with long span bridges and wind loads – an intellectual resource.

Key Recommendations and Status of Current Activities

  1. Panel Recommendation: Develop database on aerodynamic properties for U.S. bridges and sort trends.
    Action to be taken: Contact other North American (primarily Canadian) labs to determine willingness to share data and begin process of building a database for evaluating and comparing results.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (06/01/06) Included as Line Item #6 of the multi-year (06-09) road map for the National Aerodynamics Research Program. December ‘07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 04/23/07: Task Order to start in FY07, awaiting recompetition of lab support contract. See EAR proposal note in item #13 below. December ‘07, Target Completion Date.

  2. Panel Recommendation: Intensify follow-up analysis of field study results for validation & calibration of simulation & numerical methods.
    Action to be taken: Elevate this activity to a higher priority in the overall aerodynamics research plan.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (06/01/06) Included in Line Item #11 of the multi-year (06-09) road map for the National Aerodynamics Research Program. (08/15/06) Initiated continuation Task Order #27, “Monitoring…at select sites…” under lab support contract. Target Completion Date, Completed.
    Status as of 4/23/07: Hired new research engineer and developed new software package for data analysis. Target Completion Date, Completed

  3. Panel Recommendation: Confirm current performance level of large wind tunnel.
    Action to be taken: Purchase new 3-D velocity probe(s) for turbulent flow measurements. Perform flow field survey throughout the test section of the Vincent Tunnel.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (08/06) Performed “source” research on probes & included in the Capitol Improvement Plan (CIP) for the Aerodynamics Laboratory. December ‘07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 4/23/07: To move forward on this, explored possible sources of funding. On 2/12/07 had discussions with vendor to determine technical requirements. On 4/10/07 prepared procurement documents. December ‘07, Target Completion Date.

  4. Panel Recommendation: Determine if small wind tunnel should be used for quantitative measurements.
    Action to be taken: Perform detailed flow studies in the test section to establish performance characteristics and limitations of small wind tunnel. Where possible, compare results from model studies in both the small and large wind tunnels.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (09/15/06) Initiated Task Order #31, “Implementation of New Small Scale Wind Tunnel at TFHRC”, under lab support contract. The task will establish performance characteristics of the small wind tunnel. September ‘07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 10/12/06: On 3/20/07, work has begun to design modifications to small “robot” from Hydraulics Lab for installation in small wind tunnel. Testing is awaiting new velocity probe (see item #3 above). December ‘07, Target Completion Date.

  5. Panel Recommendation: Improve turn-around time, performance, and reliability.
    Action to be taken:
    Automate facilities, update test rigs, and implement new or improved software for analysis of experimental date.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (05/18/06) The majority of the planned action has been included in the CIP for the Aerodynamics Laboratory. Target Completion Date, Completed.
    Status as of 4/23/07: On 2/12/07, new software code has been written for analysis of data from force measurements in wind tunnel. On 4/10/07 new computer for control console is an Elecronics Lab for testing and setup prior to installation in the wind tunnel console. Target Completion Date, Completed as of 10/12/06.

  6. Panel Recommendation: Ensure that instruments are calibrated back to NIST standards.
    Action to be taken: Establish a log and/or database of instrument calibrations.
    Status as of 10/12/06:
    (09/01/06) Initiated Task Order #29, “General Aerodynamics Lab Support”, under lab support contract. Within this task, a new database/log will be developed including current instrument calibrations and any requirements for periodic recalibration as appropriate. April ‘07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 4/23/07: The database/log has been developed and is about 75% populated with historical information on instruments and sensors. By the end of the month we will start on entry of calibration details. June ‘07, Target Completion Date

  7. Panel Recommendation: Upgrade and/or add instrumentation to become more current.
    Action to be taken: Develop a plan to maintain and upgrade existing hardware and software. (New hardware and software will be added when appropriate and as resources permit.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (05/18/06) The Aerodynamics Lab’s “Laboratory & Research Capital Improvement Plan” (CIP) has been prepared and submitted. Target Completion Date, Completed.
    Status as of 4/23/07: An additional Matlab license has been requested due to high demand. All other commercial software has been routinely updated through maintenance. Planning sessions have been held with ANL staff regarding potential use of CFD & TRACC resources under Section 1513 © of SAFETY-LU. Target Completion Date as of 10/12/06 Completed.

  8. Panel Recommendation: Explore feasibility of upgrading and/or replacing large wind tunnel.
    Action to be taken: Conduct feasibility study to identify, design, and estimate cost of potential enhancements to Vincent tunnel. Evaluate need for new wind tunnel. If appropriate, define requirements of new tunnel and estimate cost.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (05/18/06) feasibility study has been included in the CIP for the Aerodynamics Laboratory. Target Completion Date, Completed.

  9. Panel Recommendation: Bring together stakeholders, pool financial resources & leverage WindHRP funding (when and if available).
    Action to be taken: Continue to work with internal and external stakeholders to develop a long term research plan through refinement and extension of our current multi-year plan. Identify potential funding sources and mechanisms for cooperation to support the long term plan.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (04/06) “Windstorm Impact Reduction Implementation Plan” (IP) submitted, including FHWA’s contributions. (05/22/06) Initiated outreach through participation at the T-5 meeting of the AASHTO bridge subcommittee annual meeting in Snowbird, UT. (06/01/06) Attended House Briefing on details of the IP. (08/07/06) Presented briefing on FHWA Wind R&D to National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) working group. (09/12/06) Submitted FHWA contributions for the WindHRP Annual Report to working group. September ‘07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 4/23/07: On 1/31/07 attended WindHRP meeting to begin in development of a policy statement. 3/12/07 WindHRP working group met with representatives from OFCM for briefing on their function and their “Hurricane” report. 4/10/07 Obtained additional pooled funds ($50K) for tasks supporting SPR-3(078) September ‘07, Target Completion Date.

  10. Panel Recommendation: Develop a succession plan.
    Action to be taken: No immediate action is practical.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (05/18/06) Due to current situation with FTE positions, no action is possible. Target Completion Date, Completed

  11. Panel Recommendation: Improve depth and broaden expertise of staff.
    Action to be taken: Ensure that contract support staff appropriately supports federal staff in conducting research studies that have been funded.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (05/18/06) Due to constraints, it is not currently possible to add federal (FTE) staff positions. However, contract support staffs are continuously adjusted to adequately support all funded research studies. Target Completion Date, Completed.
    Status as of 4/23/07: 12/11/06 Two research engineers (with experience in wind tunnel testing, CFD modeling, and vibrations) have been added to the lab support staff.

  12. Panel Recommendation: Maintain better reference library & remove barriers for resource sharing.
    Action to be taken: Improve reference library resources. Determine feasibility of obtaining subscriptions to select engineering journals and engineering data services.
    Status as of 10/12/06:
    (05/18/06) Subscriptions to journals and engineering data have been included in the CIP for the Aerodynamics Laboratory. The Lab Manager has responded to all queries from the TFHRC library regarding the Lab’s needs for ready access to engineering reference materials. Target Completion Date, Completed

  13. Panel Recommendation: Enhance personal skills & enable greater interaction between colleagues.
    Action to be taken: Contact other North American Labs & explore potential for TDY assignments by Lab Manager to broaden experience and exchange ideas. Create opportunities for co-workers to assist on aero lab research.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (04/22/06) Initial contact was made with researches from National Research Council Canada (NRCC) to discuss opportunities for TDY at their facility. (07/26/06) A tentative trip to NCRR has been included in the FY2007 Foreign Travel Plan. December ‘07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 4/23/07: 03/29/07 An EAR Scanning and Convening proposal has been submitted for scanning tour of labs and for conducting a research forum. December ‘07, Target Completion Date.

  14. Panel Recommendation: Initiate new activities in cooperative research.
    Action to be taken: Addressed under item #9 above.

  15. Panel Recommendation: Market skills in aerodynamics to potential customers.
    Action to be taken:
    Continue to explore and develop other means to market skills.
    Status as of 10/12/06: The Lab already does this through its website, flyers, project fact sheets, and through participation and exhibits at major meetings. Target Completion Date. - Completed.
    Status as of 4/23/07: 4/10/07 Lab website has been updated.

  16. Panel Recommendation: Maintain and enhance aerodynamics credibility.
    Action to be taken: Externally, work with other labs to identify opportunities for bench marking studies to compare experimental results. Internally, compare experimental and computational results with full scale measurements.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (05/15/06) At 38th United States and Japan Cooperative Program in Natural Resources (UJNR) meeting. Task Committee D continued discussions of possible bench mark studies regarding extraction of flutter derivatives. December ‘07, Target Completion Date.
    Status as of 4/23/07: On 12/11/06 Performed bench mark cable vibration test on new Prospect-Verona cable-stayed bridge. On 4/10/07 two TC-D conference calls has taken place to discuss status of cooperative activities. See ANL note in item #7 above. December ‘07, Target Completion Date.

  17. Panel Recommendation: Continue field studies, coordinate full scale measurement program with those of others, & catalog results.
    Action to be taken: Contact other labs to establish the details of their field activities and begin the process of identifying common objectives, measurement techniques, analysis procedures, and format of results.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (06/10/06) Included in Line Item #11 of the multi-year (06-09) road map for the National Aerodynamics Research Program. (08/15/06) Initiated continuation Task Order #27, “Monitoring … at select sites …” under lab support contract. September ‘07, Target Completion Date.

  18. Panel Recommendation: Perform model studies with greater emphasis on turbulence effects.
    Action to be taken: Initiate model studies, including turbulence where appropriate. To support turbulence simulation, develop plan for maintenance or upgrade of turbulence simulation capabilities in the laboratory. This will require either significant repair of the turbulence generator for simulation of large scale turbulence or use of fixed grid systems for producing small scale turbulence.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (05/18/06) Inspection, repair, and/or replacement of MTS pump for the turbulence generator has been included in CIP for Aerodynamics Laboratory. (06/01/06) Model tests included as Line Item #1 of the multi-year (06-09) road map for the National Aerodynamics Research Program. Target Completion Date-Completed.
    Status as of 4/23/07: On 12/11/06 Hired new research engineer with wind tunnel and CFD experience. On 4/10/07 new software code has been developed and analysis of test data is underway. Target Completion Date-Completed.

  19. Panel Recommendation: Develop guidelines for performance of aerodynamic studies.
    Action to be taken: Initiate development of guidelines for conducting studies to assess the aerodynamic performance of long span bridges.
    Status as of 10/12/06: (06/01/06) Study has been included as Line Item #2 of the multi-year (06-09) road map for the National Aerodynamics Research Program. (08/15/06)Initiated Task Order #26, “Survey & Synthesis of Wind Load Criteria for Cable Supported Structures”, under lab support contract. (09/10/06) Initiated Task Order #28, “Survey & Synthesis of User Comfort Criteria for Wind Loading”, under lab support contract. Target Completion Date - Completed
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