University’s Wind Tunnels to Form Part of National Facility


The University’s three wind tunnels, including the R. J. Mitchell Wind Tunnel are to become part of a new National Wind Tunnel Facility.

The new national facility was announced by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts on 9 January. The new facility will include wind tunnels presently based at seven universities around the country, with Southampton being the most southerly location of the seven.

Supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Centre, the UK Aerodynamics Centre and £13.3 million of additional funding, it is hoped that the new facility will enable businesses to gain easier access to aerospace facilities. It also has the benefit that each facility would be able to support each other in their research.

The R J Mitchell Wind Tunnel, the largest of the University’s three wind tunnels.
The R J Mitchell Wind Tunnel, the largest of the University’s three wind tunnels.

The University has three wind tunnels of differing sizes, the biggest of which is the R J Mitchell wind tunnel which, as previously reported, was refurbished and extended over summer to provide new facilities, including changing rooms for athletes testing new equipment and enhanced viewing galleries and reception facilities. The extensions were officially opened the day after the announcement by British Cyclist Chris Boardman.

In addition to Southampton, the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, Cranfield, Imperial College and City University in London will form part of the new facility. It is as yet unknown how the University will benefit from the new funding, but the University of Glasgow has already been awarded £1.7 million to upgrade their wind tunnels.

At the launch, Mr. Willetts said this of the new national facility:

This new investment will support research that is vital to the UK economy, including developing the next generation of fuel efficient heavy goods vehicles. This will create huge energy savings to businesses, as well as bringing environmental benefits. It is pioneering work that will help the UK get ahead in the global race.

Speaking about the opening of the new facilities Professor Don Nutbeam, Vice-Chancellor, said:

This new facility is great news for the University and continues to boost Southampton’s world-leading reputation in engineering and the impact we have globally.

The wind tunnel can be seen in use in the series of videos by ITV4 for the Tour de France. More information on the University’s wind tunnels is available here. More about the opening of the new extension is here.


History student and passionate writer about everything connected to Southampton and its rich tapestry of stories and history. Due to an unfortunate case of graduation, this writer is no longer active.

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