The closed-loop wind tunnel at Super Radiator Coils' Richmond, Va., testing laboratory includes a 50-hp blower fan, chiller, six electric heaters and two coil-testing tanks.

A wind tunnel that can vary air velocity, temperature and humidity has been installed in Chaska, Minn.-based Super Radiator Coils' plant in Richmond, Va. The coils-maker expects the tunnel to enhance its capability for developing advanced heat exchanger coils for industrial and commercial use. The 45 by 15' closed-loop tunnel -- with a 63 ft3test section -- is the centerpiece of the plant's new million-dollar testing laboratory.

The new facility and testing equipment give the company's design engineers "more of a cutting edge," says Jon Holt, chairman and CEO. Besides developing conventional products, the lab will test designs for applications such as coils for NASA, jet engines, turbines in windmill generators, fuel cells, solar collectors and other alternative sources of energy. Other uses for custom-made coils are micro-turbines, hydrogen and biogas generators, heat recovery systems, CO2abatement systems for clean coal burning, and geothermal systems, Holt says.

The closed-loop wind tunnel recirculates air through sections of a heat exchanger coil to test its performance characteristics under varying conditions, says Jian Yu, director of product development. Open-loop tunnels that bring air in one end and push it out the other can only vary air velocity, according to the company. Designed and manufactured by Aerotech Inc. in Great Britain, Super Radiator's wind tunnel uses a 50-hp blower fan to vary air velocity from 100 to 8,000 cfm. It can vary air temperature from 35 to 140°F (1.6 to 60°C), and humidity from 40 percent to 95 percent.

Other equipment, including a chiller, six electric heaters and two coil-testing tanks, will be fully operational by the end of the year, according to the company.