VorTECH, located at Reese Technology Center, is designed to simulate tornadic winds in the mid-Enhanced Fujita Scale three (EF3) range or less, or about 150 miles per hour or less, the maximum speed of approximately 92 percent of all tornadoes.
The simulator uses eight large fans to suck up approximately 160,000 cubic feet of air each minute, while 64 strategically placed vanes surround the simulator to create rotation. The force of the wind is measured by dozens of pressure sensors applied to structural models.
Smoke and helium bubbles are used to allow researchers to see the actual paths of the different winds that are created.
The data collected will contribute to understanding how tornadoes interact and damage a structure - this help researchers develop building codes to improve the safety of structures (such as buildings etc.).
Dr. Darryl James, Mechanical Engineering Professor and NWI faculty affiliate, is the Principal Investigator of this ongoing project.
(Above) - Inside the VorTECH platform, gas shows how the wind moves in this tornado
(Above) - An external view of VorTECH.