The defence, peace, safety and security unit at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is aiming to source funding to make the CSIR’s wind tunnel facilities available to academic institutions.
Research group leader for the experimental area group and head of wind tunnel facilities Mauro Morelli tells Engineering News that a significant portion of the unit’s funding is for the maintenance of the wind tunnels at the CSIR and that additional funding would allow the unit to open the facilities to students.
“We are trying to source funding to make these facilities available to academic institutions so that, while future engineers are in training, they can have access to practical applications at the facility,” he says.
Morelli adds that this initiative forms part of the CSIR’s human capital development policy. “The facilities are an excellent way to provide opportunities for the development of future generations of aeronautical engineers,” he adds.
A significant portion of the research done in the wind tunnels is for military purposes, but, Morelli says, once the testing of equipment moves into the tunnels, the information gathering is scientific and negates industry-specific approaches. The wind tunnels are also used for local aerospace industry testing and for automotive manufacturers.
Morelli says that the unit is also aiming to land international contracts for wind tunnel research. He adds that international contract work conducted at the CSIR wind tunnel facilities in the past received favour- able feedback, particularly when compared with several other international facilities. “We are pursuing international contracts and constantly honing our techniques to be able to meet international contract requirements.”
The CSIR wind tunnel unit has been part of the Subsonic Aerodynamic Testing Associ-ation (SATA) and the Supersonic Testing Association International (STAI) since the 1970s. Last year, the CSIR hosted a SATA conference, which was attended by about 30 international delegates.
Morelli says that SATA and STAI are restricted forums that provide participants from the wind tunnel sector with a platform to discuss challenges and developments and enable the CSIR to keep abreast of international trends.
The CSIR facilities use fewer staff compared with international facilities. Morelli says that this has given the unit an increased measure of flexibility, as staff members are exposed to a wider spectrum of techniques. The council aims to have all staff interchangeable between the three different tunnels to increase their flexibility and knowledge.