Volume 42, Issue 11 - November 2007

Reviews & Previews  

AAMA Members View Hurricane Simulator

The University of Florida (UF) brought its mobile windstorm simulator to the fall meeting of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), held in Orlando, Fla., in October, so members could see the world’s largest portable hurricane simulator of its kind. 

The simulator—calibrated recently to create actual recorded wind-driven rain scenarios—provides a realistic evaluation of building products and test methods intended for hurricane-prone regions. 

“We’re bringing the lab to the hurricane then bringing the hurricane to the lab,” said Forrest Masters, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil and coastal engineering at UF. 

The apparatus is mounted on a trailer and composed of eight 5-foot-high industrial fans powered by four marine engines that collectively produce 2,800 horsepower. It is designed to blast building mock-ups with winds of up to 130 mph—Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale—and high-pressure water jets that mimic torrential wind-driven rain of up to 35 inches per hour. 

AAMA invested $60,000 recently to donate a Precipitation Imaging Probe (PIP) to UF (only ten of these exist), to further the university’s hurricane research, which includes studying wind-driven rain.

Although most residential and light commercial properties that are built in compliance with current codes will withstand hurricane winds physically, water intrusion through windows and walls remains a recurring issue.

“The information gathered will help us ensure performance of the windows, doors and wall assemblies under real-world hurricane conditions, and ultimately, protect more people and properties from costly damages,” said AAMA president Rich Walker.

To see a video of how the simulator works, visit www.usglassmag.com/studio.  


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