NHERI Experimental Facility 2015-2019 Grant

NHERI Experimental Facility 2015-2019 .


  • The Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) will be supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a distributed, multi-user national facility that will provide the natural hazards research community with access to research infrastructure that will include earthquake and wind engineering experimental facilities, cyberinfrastructure, computational modeling and simulation tools, and research data, as well as education and community outreach activities. NHERI will be comprised of separate awards for a Network Coordination Office, Cyberinfrastructure, Computational Modeling and Simulation Center, and Experimental Facilities, including a post-disaster, rapid response research facility. Awards made for NHERI will contribute to NSF's role in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program. NHERI continues NSF's emphasis on earthquake engineering research infrastructure previously supported under the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation as part of NEHRP, but now broadens that support to include wind engineering research infrastructure. NHERI has the broad goal of supporting research that will improve the resilience and sustainability of civil infrastructure, such as buildings and other structures, underground structures, levees, and critical lifelines, against the natural hazards of earthquakes and windstorms, in order to reduce loss of life, damage, and economic loss. Information about NHERI resources will be available on the DesignSafe-ci.org web portal.NHERI Experimental Facilities will provide access to their experimental resources, user services, and data management infrastructure for NSF-supported research and education awards. This award will support a NHERI Experimental Facility at Florida International University to conduct wind engineering research using the 12-fan Wall of Wind (WOW). The United States has learned very hard lessons in the last decade about its human, economic, and infrastructure vulnerabilities to wind hazard events. The WOW is a windstorm simulation facility that allows testing of holistic building systems and other structures at multiple scales in wind speeds up to and including hurricane Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with a wind-driven rain option. The WOW will allow researchers to generate new and highly specific knowledge on wind damage and rain intrusion mechanisms. The goal is to improve design practices for structural and building envelope systems and lifeline infrastructures to create more wind-resilient and sustainable communities. The WOW will also promote student learning as part of the larger national effort to foster a diverse and globally competitive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. More broadly, the WOW will serve the national interest by promoting the progress of wind engineering science and technology; generating innovations that can lead to reductions in life, property, and infrastructure losses; and supporting research needed to prevent wind hazard events from becoming community disasters. The WOW facility will provide the following experimental capabilities: (1) high-speed holistic testing at multiple scales in simulated hurricane wind speeds up to and including Category 5; (2) wind-driven rain simulations to study water intrusion; (3) testing under extreme environments to develop innovative mitigation devices; (4) large-scale aerodynamic/aeroelastic testing in atmospheric boundary layer flows at high Reynolds numbers; and (5) classic boundary layer wind tunnel small-scale testing in flows with a full turbulence spectrum. The WOW will offer a wide range of instrumentation and data acquisition systems, and will allow wind load data to be obtained for a wide range of building shapes, accounting for interference and shielding effects not addressed in current design standards. The archived database will help researchers study peak loads and validate computational methods. Holistic testing of integrated component assemblies will help determine fragilities, progressive failure modes, and rain intrusion mechanisms. Research using the WOW will help validate sustainable building concepts and innovative mitigation strategies. Knowledge gained from large-scale tests will enable researchers to develop more energy efficient and smart building envelopes, identify on-site renewable energy sources, and implement natural ventilation strategies. Strategic partnerships will add capabilities to allow use of aerodynamic data on straight winds in designs for tornadoes and downbursts. Research conducted at the facility will contribute to incorporating new findings into standards and improving current practices. The university's STEM Transformation Institute will help incorporate its program into the facility's educational component, fostering a new intellectual infrastructure with inquiry-based active learning and Learning Assistant modules, which will be transportable to wind engineering curricula in the United States and around the world. This facility will conduct annual workshops for prospective users and will host Research Experiences for Undergraduate students.

date/time interval

  • November 9, 2015 - December 31, 2021

sponsor award ID

  • 1520853