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National Wind Tunnel Facility

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The National Wind Tunnel Facility (NWTF), is an initiative in which 17 wind tunnels distributed across seven UK universities (host institutions) are made open access (for up to 25% of time) to external researchers in the UK and abroad, from both university and industry based.[1]

NWTF is intended to be as inclusive as possible while still supporting the best science. The scheme was announced on 9 January 2014 by David Willetts, Minister for Science and Universities.[2] The total funding for the Facility is £13.3 million, £10.7 million coming from EPSRC and £2.6 million from the UK Aerospace Technology Institute.[3]

The EPSRC and ATI decided to fund the NWTF in order to match the UK talent base to world-class wind tunnel facilities. The enhanced UK capability in experimental aerodynamics is available to all UK-based researchers. The stated aim was to create nodes of excellence attracting young researchers. Another aim was to establish a closer tie with industry, creating a pull-through environment and an intended spill-over of the collaboration and benefits to other sectors.[4]

The NWTF programme was to have a duration of five years. A mid-term review was to review the progress made during the first two and a half years. The current end date is December 2018,

Wind tunnels available

Institution Name Designation
Cambridge Supersonic Tunnels 1 & 2, (TS1, TS2) Transonic/supersonic; open return / blow down: two identical facilities
City, University of London Transonic/Supersonic T5 Tunnel (TS3) Transonic / Supersonic closed return, induction driven
London Low Turbulence Wind Tunnel (LS1) Low Speed closed return
Cranfield Low Speed 8x6 Wind Tunnel (LS2) Low Speed closed return
Cranfield Low Speed 8x4 Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel (LS3) Low Speed closed return
Cranfield Low Speed Icing Tunnel (LS4) Low Speed closed return
Glasgow Low Speed 9x7 Wind Tunnel (LS5) Low Speed closed return
Imperial College Low Speed 10x5 Low Speed Wind Tunnel (LS6) Low Speed closed return
Imperial Supersonic Wind tunnel (TS4) Intermittent hybrid blow-down / suck-down arrangement
Imperial Hypersonic Gun tunnel (HS1) Hypersonic Intermittent impulsive facility
Oxford Hypersonic Gun tunnel (HS2) Hypersonic Intermittent blowdown
Oxford Low Density tunnel (HS3) Hypersonic rarefied flow
Oxford High Density tunnel (HS4) Hypersonic Heated Ludweig tube
University of Southampton R J Mitchell Wind Tunnel (LS7) Low speed, closed return
Southampton Anechoic Wind Tunnel (LS8) Anechoic Wind Tunnel
Southampton Hydroscience Tank (LS9) Towing and wave tank



The NWTF has a management board (MB) that meets approximately every 3 months. This is composed of a Principal Investigator from each of the current host institutions and the NWTF Project Manager. The current MB members are Professor Holger Babinsky (University of Cambridge), Professor Chris Atkin (City University), Professor Kevin Garry (Cranfield University), Dr Richard Green (University of Glasgow), Professor Jonathan Morrison (Imperial College), Professor Peter Ireland (University of Oxford), Professor Bharathram Ganapathisubramani (University of Southampton) and Dr Kevin Gouder (NWTF Project Manager).

An advisory board (AB) oversees the broader aims of the NWTF, monitors the running of the NWTF and reviews progress versus Key Performance Indicators. The AB is composed of representatives from EPSRC, ATI, senior academics (from the UK and abroad), representatives from industry, an existing National Facility Manager and is chaired by an independent senior UK-based aerodynamicist.

Key Dates

Date Event
9 January 2014 Minister David Willetts inaugurates the NWTF at the Honda Wind Tunnel, Imperial College, London, UK
Every 3 months Meeting of the Management Board
January 2015 First meeting of the Advisory Board
June 2016 Mid-Term Review
December 2018 End of the scheme as currently proposed