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The University of Southampton

Fair winds for UK aerodynamics and fluid mechanics research

Published: 9 January 2014Origin: Engineering

Willetts announces £13 million funding for National Wind Tunnel Facility

A new National Wind Tunnel Facility (NWTF) that will keep the UK at the forefront of aerodynamic and fluid mechanics research was announced today by David Willetts, Minister for Science and Universities, as he toured the Honda wind tunnel facilities at Imperial College London.

The total funding for the Facility is £13.3 million, with £10.7 million coming from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and £2.6 million from the UK Aerodynamics Centre.

The National Wind Tunnel Facility will include seven wind tunnels spread across universities throughout the UK. For maximum UK benefit in the future, the UK requires a balance of academic and industrially-oriented facilities. To meet this need, EPSRC and the UK Aerodynamics Centre are working together to co-fund a portfolio of distributed, but co-ordinated, facilities so their usage can be optimised.

The NWTF will support research addressing problems in many sectors but with a primary focus on aerospace research, a key contributor to the UK’s GDP.

Mr Willetts said: “This new investment will support research that is vital to the UK economy, including developing the next generation of fuel efficient heavy goods vehicles. This will create huge energy savings to businesses, as well as bringing environmental benefits. It is pioneering work that will help the UK get ahead in the global race.”

David Delpy, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: “This new National Facility builds on our previous investments in Aerodynamics and Fluid Dynamics related research and PhD training across the institutions involved. These represent a total research portfolio of over £37 million.”

The facilities will be available for use by researchers and industry and will be able to simulate a wide variety of environments to build understanding of both low and high speed conditions.

The facilities will be complementary in terms of the types of experiment they will support. For instance, while Cranfield University will support high-quality force measurements, Imperial College and Southampton will provide expertise in new techniques such as tomographic reconstruction of Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) data.

EPSRC has also recently announced funding for Centres for Doctoral Training in the areas of Fluid Dynamics, Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynamics:

- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fluid Dynamics across Scales - based at Imperial College London

- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Gas Turbine Aerodynamics - based at the University of Cambridge

Behrooz Barzegar, Head of Flight Physics Integration, Policy and Integration, Airbus UK said: “Aerodynamics has historically been a core strength and a cutting edge capability in the UK. It is great to see such investments protecting and nurturing this capability. My congratulations to the UK Aerodynamics Centre and EPSRC for such foresight. Such initiatives are key to the architectural development of our aircraft towards cleaner and more accessible air transportation for our community.”

Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Chair of the UK Aerodynamics Council and Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge said: “I welcome this investment by EPSRC and the UK Aerodynamics Centre in a National Wind Tunnel Facility. It will give researchers and industry access to the world-class facilities and instrumentation vital for the development of future quiet, ultra-efficient aircraft.”

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Notes for editors

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

The UK Aerodynamics Centre

The UK Aerodynamics Centre (UKAC) is part of a significant seven-year investment programme into the UK Aerospace Sector by Government and industry representatives. Focusing on aerodynamics as one of the UK's most prestigious areas of industrial expertise, UKAC has developed and guided the national strategy for the sector, which includes the allocation of major industrial research funds.

During the course of 2014 UKAC will be integrated with the newly-formed Aerospace Technology Institute, where it will continue its work to protect, sustain and grow the UK aerospace industry in collaboration with the wider community.

For media enquiries contact:

EPSRC Press Office: e-mail:, or telephone 01793 444404

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