DaimlerChrysler Corporation has opened a new $US37.5 million wind tunnel facility for aerodynamic and acoustic testing.

The 31,000-square-foot aero-acoustic wind tunnel facility, which will also be used for racing vehicle development, can accommodate vehicles up to 10,000 pounds.

The 18-foot turntable permits precise positioning of vehicles during testing and the facility’s fans can generate winds in excess of 150 miles per hour to assess aerodynamic drag and wind noise.

With the use of acoustic materials and other design elements to minimise background sound, the facility is acoustically the quietest wind tunnel currently in use in the automotive industry.

This permits the precise analysis of the wind noise characteristics of new vehicle designs. Constant temperature controls allow for precise, repeatable acoustic testing.

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The new aerodynamic and acoustic test facility is located on the south side of Chrysler’s technology centre, with easy access to the design and engineering centres and vehicle fabrication shops.

“The wind tunnel is the cornerstone of our lab and test facilities,” said Chrysler Group’s scientific laboratories and proving grounds head Donald Goodwin.

“It is a critical link in the design and development of new vehicles. Our proximity to the rest of the vehicle design and engineering functions will reduce the time and cost of bringing a new vehicle to market. For example, we can provide test results on new clay models to the design centre on an overnight basis.”

The aero-acoustic wind tunnel is designed to enhance fuel efficiency and performance through improved aerodynamic design; minimise wind noise levels and validate the performance of exterior vehicle components through whole- vehicle testing in operating speed ranges.

Wind speeds of more than 150 miles per hour allow testing of the fastest vehicles for the American and European markets and the wind tunnel is also large enough to accommodate testing of a full range of vehicles up to the largest pickup.

The new facility is already fully booked to the end of 2002 and designers and engineers will continue to use the company’s three-eighths model wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to complement the new full-scale tunnel.

The three-year wind tunnel construction project was completed on budget and ahead of schedule.