The Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a distributed, multi-user national facility to provide the natural hazards engineering research community with access to research infrastructure that includes earthquake and wind engineering experimental facilities, cyberinfrastructure (CI), computational modeling and simulation tools, high performance computing resources, and research data, as well as education and community outreach activities. Originally funded under program solicitations NSF 14-605 and NSF 15-598, NHERI has operated since 2015 through separate, but coordinated, five-year research infrastructure awards for a Network Coordination Office, CI, Computational Modeling and Simulation Center, and Experimental Facilities, including a post-disaster, rapid response research facility. Information about NHERI resources is available at the NHERI web portal ( Awards made for NHERI contribute to NSF's role in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP). NHERI Experimental Facilities will provide access to their experimental resources, user services, and data management infrastructure for NSF-supported research and education awards. This award will renew the NHERI Experimental Facility at the University of Florida from January 1, 2021, to September 30, 2025. Through this award, the University of Florida will continue to maintain, operate, and enhance its Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel (BLWT) component of NHERI, which enables research to understand the vulnerability of civil infrastructure to the destructive impacts of strong winds and improve building codes and standards to safeguard hazard-prone communities. The BLWT is an important tool for assessing wind loads on structures through the simulation of the effects of extreme winds (hurricanes, thunderstorms, and tornadoes) on scaled models in a controlled environment. This fundamental understanding of wind forces is a critical aspect of mitigating risk, reducing damage, and saving lives by enabling engineers to perform cost effective design to resist extreme winds. The facility will cultivate an important ecosystem for the hazard engineering workforce through the development and implementation of a K-12 teacher training program to increase pedagogical knowledge about wind hazards. The facility will also conduct annual user workshops and host Research Experiences for Undergraduate students.

Combined with the collocated high-performance computing cluster, the NHERI facility at the University of Florida will provide the experimental and computational capacity, staffing, domain expertise, and end-to-end project services that enable transformative research. The BLWT is a culmination of multiple technologies that improve the range and throughput of wind hazard experiments that can be performed. The experimental automation tools will provide researchers flexibility in their test configurations while supporting high-throughput testing and data collection. The approach terrain can be rapidly reconfigured over a continuum of options to achieve desired flow conditions over a wide range of geometric scales. The instrumentation gantry can traverse preset paths to collect wind field measurements anywhere in the tunnel test section using multiple 3D probes or a stereoscopic particle imagine velocimetry system. The Flow Field Modulator (FFM) consists of a 2D array of 319 individually controlled shrouded propellers driven by electronic speed controllers. The FFM enables the simulation of non-monotonic profiles and nonstationary events, such as damaging gust fronts and downbursts, at a reduced geometric scale. The facility’s cyberinfrastructure supports remote use, hybrid experiments, real-time analysis, automated data back-up, and seamless integration with the NHERI cyberinfrastructure. These experimental capabilities will provide new opportunities in wind tunnel testing and open pathways to solve outstanding wind hazard issues associated with resilient infrastructure, lifelines, wind energy, and meteorology. Experimental data generated from the research conducted at this facility will be archived in the Data Depot on the NHERI web portal.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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University of Florida
United States
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