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Wind tunnel project – Vortex Engineering

Luke Lynch Dec 12

“This project really demonstrates how we can draw on expertise and specialties within the Vortex Group to deliver a unique solution.”

General Manager, Brett Hawkes

The depth and breadth of expertise offered by Vortex Engineering was evident recently when the company was called upon to design a large high velocity wind tunnel for architectural screening and façade supplier Insol.

Vortex Engineering general manager Brett Hawkes says Insol approached Vortex early on in the project to help achieve the vision for its unique façade testing facility.

The project saw Vortex use expertise across its group to deliver not only the airflow required but house it all within the confines of an existing building, which was a key preference of the client. The final design involved multiple centrifugal fans, ducted in a once through configuration complete with three metre mechanical turntable.

“Our expertise was used to refine and focus on the best option,” he says.
Computer modelling provided by Vortex sister company Fowlerex Technologies determined the right equipment to generate flow velocities up to 200km/h.
With full variable speed control, four centrifugal fans was the best option, drawing air from outside the building, combining through ducting to a focused jet before release to the exterior again.

The maximum control of wind speed and angle allows Insol to complete low-speed acoustic testing as well as high-speed structural tests.

Other Vortex group companies involved included Taylors Manufacturing, which built the fans, and Taurus Engineering, which built the test bed turntable.
The result was a unique facility specifically to test 1:1 scale building façade elements for structural integrity and wind noise.

“This project really demonstrates how we can draw on expertise and specialties within the Vortex Group to deliver a unique solution. It was certainly a large scale challenge – to the best of our knowledge there is not a wind tunnel testing facility of this size and power in the Southern Hemisphere,” says Brett.

Formed in 1989 Vortex Engineering is a New Zealand owned and operated mechanical engineering company specialising in the design, manufacture, installation and servicing of air pollution control systems, fume and dust extraction systems and material handling solutions.

Brett says a key factor in the company’s success is a solid engineering skill base built up through many years of experience across a wide range of industries, which include timber, food (general), dairy, mineral, foundry, cement, packaging, fertiliser and grain /seed.

“We really work to understand what our clients need to achieve then ensure solutions are optimised for their particular circumstances. Sometimes clients come to us with ideas and equipment and we might advise them on a different – and often more cost effective – way to achieve their end goal.

“It’s not about selling the most expensive equipment – it’s about finding the best solution and delivering real value-added service,” says Brett.

At present Vortex is working on a variety of projects including supplying large dust collection equipment to a gold mine in Saudi Arabia, creating a solution to help capture powdered protein product for an Australian food manufacturer, jet engine servicing equipment, and completing green energy boiler conversions.

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