Models show which way the wind blows

November 01, 2008

Models show which way the wind blows

Embedded systems including pressure sensors, analog and digital I/O, and measurement software collect and analyze data in aerodynamic simulation model...


Ruscheweyh Consult (RC), Germany, constructs aerodynamic models of high-rise buildings and large industrial facilities. Professor Hans Ruscheweyh, CEO of RC and vice president of the Association for Wind Engineering for Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, has been conducting aerodynamic research for more than 30 years.

RC's aerodynamic simulation designs include projects around the world, from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert to the Radio Telescope MAN in Germany. The company has a flow laboratory and boundary layer wind tunnel where researchers analyze the aerodynamic behavior of building models. Using a turntable located in the wind tunnel, researchers can simulate wind loads on buildings from different angles. The wind tunnel uses various embedded computing systems for data collection and analysis.

Researchers at RC recently analyzed a model of the 162 m (531 foot) Esentai Tower in Almaty, Kazakhstan (see Figure 1). Up to 360 pressure sensors supplied by Sensortechnics, Germany, are integrated into the surface of this model to report wind pressure and structural flexions, as shown in Figure 2. A modular measurement system equipped with analog and digital I/O from Geitmann, Germany, collects, stores, and forwards data produced in the wind tunnel. Measurement software includes the DQSoft software suite as well as drivers for DASYLab, DIAdem, and LabVIEW from National Instruments, United States, and FlexPro from Scientific Solutions, Switzerland.

Figure 1


Figure 2



These embedded systems can capture and display video sequences in real time at up to 200 frames per second, time-synchronized with sensor data. Each analog channel is digitized by its own A/D converter with 24-bit resolution (0.05 percent accuracy). Calibration and conversion at up to 20,000 samples per second are based on extremely precise DSPs. Measurement data is transferred via Ethernet to other computers where it is further analyzed using complex, compute-intensive algorithms.

Automation market growth

Market volume for electrical automation worldwide is estimated at about €253 billion (U.S. $342 billion), as reported by ZVEI. Domestic and export growth rates for the German automation market were both almost 15 percent in 2007. Robotics had a growth rate of 20 percent in 2007, according to VDMA. While the United States, Japan, and Germany lead the embedded systems market (in that order), Germany is the largest exporter of automation equipment, which is often used in embedded microprocessor, board, and system applications.


Hermann Strass (European Analyst)