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What is the Kirsten Wind Tunnel (aka UWAL, UW Aero Lab, KWT)?

The Kirsten Wind Tunnel (KWT) is an Auxiliary Enterprise of the University of Washington. It was established in the 1930's with the aim that commercial revenue-testing would sustain operations. Eligible engineering undergraduates, studying fundamentals at UW's other two wind tunnels, could get practical experience if hired for operations and computing shifts at UW-KWT, a policy that continues to this day. UW-KWT personnel can also support commercial tests utilizing other department facilities and equipment.


Your generous donations enhance undergraduates' hands-on learning at UWAA facilities including the wind tunnels. Consider making a donation to funds such as the James A. Weiberg Fund, Joseph F. Sutter Fund, or other programs that benefit the UW Dept. of Aeronautics And Astronautics. Click here.

Kirsten Wind Tunnel

The Kirsten Wind Tunnel is a subsonic, closed circuit, double return wind tunnel. The tunnel has a test section with a rectangular 8' x 12' cross-section that is 10 feet long. Two sets of 14' 9"-diameter seven-bladed propellers move the air up to 200 MPH through the test section. A computer-automated model positioning and data acquisition system ensures testing efficiency and precise measurements while a networked data reduction and plotting system allows for immediate data visibility. Most tests make use of KWT's six-component external balance. We also support high channel count Electronic Pressure Scanning (EPS) systems. For more detailed information, please see the Technical Guide to the Kirsten Wind Tunnel .

Air Speeds 5-200 MPH (90 m/s, 295 ft/s)
Dynamic Pressures 0.07-100 psf
Flow Angularity Upflow = -0.012°, Crossflow = 0.0°
Turbulence Intensity 0.72%
Test Section

8' tall, 12' wide, 10' long (2.44x3.66x3.05m)

External Balance Limits
Lift: ±2500 lbs ±11120 N
Drag: ±250 lbs ±1112 N
Side: ±250 lbs ±1112 N
Pitching: ±5000 in-lbs ±564.9 N-m
Yawing: ±5000 in-lbs ±564.9 N-m
Rolling: ±5000 in-lbs ±564.9 N-m
Model Positioning Fully automated pitch and yaw accurate to ±0.02°
Data Reduction Semi-corrected plots of data available in real-time. A separate data set with final corrections is produced as appropriate with customer input.
Flow Visualizations Smoke, oils, china clay, sublimation, UV minitufts
Electronic Pressure Scanning Scanivalve EPS Modules: one 64-Port Dual Bank Module (±0.007psi) and one 32-Port Single Bank Module (±0.005psi)
Test Types

Scale-model Aircraft, Scale-model Ground Vehicles, UAV's, Bicycles, Motorcycles, Racing Yacht Keels



UW Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics Water Tunnel and 3X3 LSWT

UW-KWT can arrange for commercial testing using the department's 3X3 Low Speed Wind Tunnel ("3X3") or its 0.7m x 0.7m Water Tunnel.

The 3X3 is ideal for testing 2-D models and small 3-D models up to speeds of 125 MPH. The test section of this open circuit LSWT has a square 3' x 3' cross-section that is 8 feet long. Customers need to supply their own instrumentation and mounting apparatus.

The water tunnel test section dimensions are 0.7 by 0.7 by 2.5 meters. Customers need to supply their own instrumentation and mounting apparatus.

Other Related Websites:

University of Washington Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics

UW Resources for Business and Industry

College of Engineering Partnerships with Industry

Subsonic Aerodynamic Testing Association (SATA) Home Page