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Wind Engineering

The research on Wind Engineering and Wind Energy is one of the cornerstones of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Initiated in 1970 by Prof. Giorgio Diana it was initially focuses on the wind-induced dynamic response of cables and bridges. A major improvement occurred at the end of the last century thanks to the availability of the GVPM Wind Tunnel. Since 2001, the spectrum of wind engineering applications widened with new research topics.

The strength of the Research Group is the availability of a top-class experimental facility combined with a strong tradition in numerical modelling of structure and systems dynamics. The combined experimental-numerical approach allows to develop original contributions in different Wind Engineering fields as Structure Dynamics, Mechanical Systems Vibrations, Vehicle System Dynamics, Wind Energy and Sailboats design.

The Research Group is composed of 6 professors, 3 assistant professors, 3 technical staff members and several post-docs and PhD students. Many activities offer master thesis topics to the most motivated students who have the opportunity to work on leading edge research problems.

The research is focused on developing powerful numerical models allowing for predictive analysis of wind-structure interaction problems, always supported by experimental validation. The CFD approach is also a research branch of increasing interest, focused on the physical insight and parametric analysis of the experimental approach. Finally, the reliability of predictive numerical simulations is always validated by specific wind-tunnel procedures and full-scale testing.

The Research Group is organized into application topics:

  • Bridge Wind Engineering: Predictive simulations of bridge dynamic response to turbulent wind and aeroelastic stability relying on innovative numerical approaches based on and validated by experimental Wind-Tunnel techniques. Top level experimental expertise in aeroelastic models and sectional models wind tunnel testing. The Research Group is/was involved in the most important international aerodynamic projects (Messina Suspension Bridge, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, Cannakkale 1915 bridge, Queensferry crossing,…) and it coordinates the IABSE international benchmark on long span bridge aeroelasticity.
  • Cable Wind Interaction: internationally recognized know-how resulting in worldwide extensively used numerical methods to define wind-induced cable vibrations (aeolian vibrations, sub-span instabilities, ice-galloping) and design the mitigation solutions. The research team has been responsible for innovative wind-cable interaction design and damping system design.
  • Building Aerodynamics: recognized expertise on high rise buildings and on large flexible roofs wind induced dynamics using experimental and numerical approaches applied in many international projects. Wind loads computations and pressure peak estimations for structure dimensioning. Double skin solid and porous facades aerodynamic design.
  • Wind Energy: the expertise in hardware in the loop modelling and the availability of a 6-dof robot and the development of wind tunnel scale wind turbines allows to participate to the most cutting edge EU-funded research projects
  • Train Aerodynamics: the capability in wind tunnel, full scale and numerical modelling of train aerodynamics is documented by the number of scientific publications and cooperation with railway companies and by the contributions to international standards. Main topics are not limited to crosswind, but are extended to slipstream, train-tunnel interaction, train infrastructure aerodynamic interaction (wind barriers and ballast lifting).
  • Vehicle Aerodynamics: The studies are devoted to the analysis of crosswind effects on heavy vehicle, aerodynamics of vehicle components, such as wheel and tyre, showing a strong collaboration with the vehicle dynamics group.
  • Boat Aerodynamics: wind-tunnel tests on the sails of sailing boats and the availability of a 10m sailing boat is a unique asset. The competences involve wind comfort and pollution dispersion on yachts and mega-yachts.
  • Computational Wind Engineering: Wind engineering expertise is supported by Computational Fluid-Dynamics, to validate and extend wind tunnel and experimental data, adding value to the study of the Wind Engineering problems.
  • Sports Aerodynamics: we support many top level athletes to increase their aerodynamic performance in cycling, skying and other sports. We also support gear manufacturers to increase the performance of their products.