How do you control airflow around airplane wings? - Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal acquires a subsonic wind tunnel so that researchers can better understand and control fluid-structure interaction

    How should wind turbine blades be shaped to increase energy production
    while reducing noise?

    MONTREAL, Oct. 31 /CNW Telbec/ - Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal today
launched its new scientific facility: a subsonic wind tunnel. Acquired through
funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Québec government,
the facility will enable researchers to better understand and control
fluid-structure interaction.
    How do you attenuate vibrations and reduce noise near airports? How can
you construct electric cables to better resist wind forces? How can you
prevent vibrations inside a nuclear reactor?
    These are a few of the questions that interest some of the field's
foremost pioneers: Professor Njuki W. Mureithi and his colleagues in
Polytechnique's Department of Mechanical Engineering. The problem of
fluid-structure interactions in industrial components remains a significant
scientific challenge and few teams worldwide can match the expertise acquired
by Polytechnique in fluid-structure interaction.
    "The subsonic wind tunnel we have recently acquired allows us to simulate
airflow at 300 kilometres an hour," said Professor Mureithi, who is Associate
Chairholder of the NSERC/AECL/BWC Industrial Research Chair on Fluid-Structure
Interaction. "We are now in a position to validate computer-assisted designs
in conditions that approach reality. Through our research, we can reduce
vibration, erosion and damage to various key components of high technology
    At the launch, with cameras present, Polytechnique professors Njuki
Mureithi and Huu Duc Vo tested a new technology that uses plasma to control
the vibration of a cylinder. The groundbreaking technology is expected to
improve airplane wing design, stability and engine performance. Presently
researched at only a handful of institutions worldwide, the technology is
attracting increasing notice from the aeronautics industry.
    In addition to benefiting industry through technology transfers, the wind
tunnel will be used for applied research and to train highly qualified
workers. "Some 14 students are currently researching fluid-structure dynamics
at the master's and doctoral levels. And this number is expected to increase
in coming years, heralding a new generation of scientists to support
innovation," said Christophe Guy, Ecole Polytechnique's Chief Executive
    "The Canadian Foundation for Innovation is proud to play a part in
furthering knowledge and enhancing the quality of research and training in
research institutions across Canada," stated Dr. Eliot Phillipson, President
and CEO of the CFI. "Our financial support of the infrastructure being
launched today corresponds exactly to our mission."
    Acquisition and installation of the state-of-the-art infrastructure was
made possible through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Québec's
Ministère de l'Education, du Loisir et du Sport, each of which contributed
$223,104. Representing a total investment of over $860,000, the project also
received support from Dantec Dynamics Inc., ELD Inc., SKF Magnetic Bearings
and Ecole Polytechnique.
    In addition to the subsonic wind tunnel, Polytechnique's laboratory also
acquired a precision two-phase loop to study the dynamic properties and
stability of multiphase flows; a magnetic-bearing dynamic spin rig to study
the dynamics of rotating machines; and a stereoscopic PIV (particle image
velocimetry) system to optically measure airflow.

    About Polytechnique

    Founded in 1873, Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal is one of Canada's
leading engineering institutions in terms of both teaching and research. It is
the largest engineering school in Québec in terms of its student body and the
scope of its research activities. Polytechnique provides instruction in
11 engineering specialties and is responsible for more than one-quarter of all
university research in engineering in Québec. The institution has
230 professors and nearly 6,000 students. In addition to its annual operating
budget of $85 million, Polytechnique has a $68-million operating and research
infrastructure fund, which includes grants and contracts worth $38 million.

    About FCI

    The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation
created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI's
mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges,
research hospitals, and non-profit research institutions to carry out
world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians. Since
its creation in 1997, the CFI has committed more than $3.75 billion in support
of 5,400 projects at 128 research institutions in 64 municipalities across

For further information:

For further information: Annie Touchette, Communications and Recruitment
Office, Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal, (514) 340-4711, ext. 4415, Cell:
(514) 231-8133,; Photos:

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