There is a strong wind blowing at NASA – MACH 1 in fact. NASA’s National Transonic Facility has installed a drive with a single motor running at over 100MW. It is driving a giant fan that creates the controlled wind conditions in NFT’s wind tunnel.
The variable speed AC drive and motor system is thought to be the largest ever built and has been supplied to NASA’s Langley Research Centre in USA by ABB.
The wind generated is needed to simulate testing of aircraft at transonic speeds. The new system expands the testing capacity of the wind tunnel so that in addition to simulating the full scale, in-flight performance characteristics of large transport aircraft it can simulate parameters such as Reynolds Numbers which manufacturers need to optimise design and shorten product development cycles.