Three-Dimensional Venturi Sensor for Measuring Extreme Winds

Advantageous features include ruggedness, rapid response, and high dynamic range.

A three-dimensional (3D) Venturi sensor is being developed as a compact, rugged means of measuring wind vectors having magnitudes of as much as 300 mph (134 m/s). This sensor also incorporates auxiliary sensors for measuring temperature from -40 to +120 °F (-40 to +49 °C), relative humidity from 0 to 100 percent, and atmospheric pressure from 846 to 1,084 millibar (85 to 108 kPa).

Figure 1. A Prototype Three-Dimensional Venturi Sensor is shown here mounted in a wind tunnel for testing at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, FL.
Conventional cup-and-vane anemometers are highly susceptible to damage by both high wind forces and debris, due to their moving parts and large profiles. In addition, they exhibit slow recovery times contributing to an inaccurately high average-speed reading. Ultrasonic and hot-wire anemometers overcome some of the disadvantages of the cup-and-vane anemometers, but they have other disadvantageous features, including limited dynamic range and susceptibility to errors caused by external acoustic noise and rain.

In contrast, the novel 3D Venturi sensor is less vulnerable to wind damage because of its smaller profile and ruggedness. Since the sensor has no moving parts, it provides increased reliability and lower maintenance costs. It has faster response and recovery times to changing wind conditions than traditional systems. In addition, it offers wide dynamic range and is expected to be relatively insensitive to rain and acoustic energy.

Figure 2. Pressure and Flow Pattern Results from simulation of the prototype 3D Venturi sensor are shown at 100-mph (45-m/s) wind velocity.
The Venturi effect in this sensor is achieved by the mirrored double-inflection curve, which is then rotated 360° to create the desired detection surfaces. The curve is optimized to provide a good balance of pressure difference between sensor ports and overall maximum fluid velocity while in the shape. Four posts are used to separate the two shapes, and their size and location were chosen to minimize effects on the pressure measurements.

The 3D Venturi sensor has smart software algorithms to map the wind pressure exerted on the surfaces of the design. Using Bernoulli's equation, the speed of the wind is calculated from the differences among the pressure readings at the various ports. The direction of the wind is calculated from the spatial distribution and magnitude of the pressure readings. All of the pressure port sizes and locations have been optimized to minimize measurement errors and to reside in areas demonstrating a stable pressure reading proportional to the velocity range.

This work was done by Jan A. Zysko, Jose M. Perotti, and Christopher Amis of Kennedy Space Center and John Randazzo, Norman Blalock, and Anthony Eckhoff of Dynacs, Inc. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category. KSC-12435.

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