Chris Boardman MBE launches new Wind Tunnel facilities

Former British Cycling star, Chris Boardman MBE will officially open the new extension to the R.J Mitchell Wind Tunnel today (Friday 10 January).

The R. J. Mitchell Wind Tunnel, which is the largest wind tunnel in the UK University sector, has a prestigious history and is a facility we are proud of. The wind tunnel was originally the Farnborough No. 2 tunnel and dates back to the 1920's. It was donated to the University around 1980 and has been made available to undergraduate users, researchers and a broad customer base including Formula One, Cycling, Winter Sports, World Rally and Indy Car teams. It is also used extensively for aerodynamic development for production sports cars and by the aerospace industry.

The new extension has been designed to enhance the entrance for visitors and provide ‘airside' access particularly during tours and outreach events. The facility also includes new changing rooms for professional athletes using the tunnel when testing sports equipment.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam, says: “This new facility is great news for the University and continues to boost Southampton’s world-leading reputation in engineering and the impact we have globally.”

In recent years, the tunnel has been able to diversify and allow far more research, teaching – via both project work and research – and commercial testing. Recent commercial work has included America's Cup yachts, British Olympic athletes and Aston Martin. This work was recognised in 2012 with a Queen's Anniversary Prize for innovation and world-leading expertise in performance sports engineering. It has also featured recently in ITV4's coverage of the Tour de France.

Professor Simon Cox, Associate Dean for Enterprise in Engineering and the Environment, comments “The University is proud of its wind tunnel facilities and the impact they have had across Formula One, America’s Cup racing, aerodynamics research and Performance Sports over several decades. We are delighted to be opening this extension to the RJ Mitchell Wind Tunnel, which will enhance the environment for our research, enterprise and education activities.”

We will also be welcoming industry partners, students and staff to celebrate the launch of the improved facilities.

There was further good news when the EPSRC announced that Southampton is joining a new National Wind Tunnel Facility (NWTF) that will keep the UK at the forefront of aerodynamic and fluid mechanics research.

Three Southampton facilities, including the R.J. Mitchell Wind Tunnel, will share in the £13.3 million funding for the NWTF, which will support research addressing problems in many sectors but with a primary focus on aerospace research, a key contributor to the UK’s GDP.

R. J. Mitchell Wind Tunnel

R. J. Mitchell Wind Tunnel

"The University is proud of its wind tunnel facilities and the impact they have had across Formula One, America’s Cup racing, aerodynamics research and Performance Sports over several decades."

Professor Simon Cox, Associate Dean for Enterprise in Engineering and the Environment