December 9, 2022

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The Chinese have a new wind tunnel.  It is so strong that it cannot be operated from the mains

The Chinese have a new wind tunnel. It is so strong that it cannot be operated from the mains

If you believe the reports from the Middle Kingdom, local engineers have designed a hypersonic wind tunnel that needs so much power that it cannot be connected to the local power grid.

High-speed technologies are in great demand nowadays – they are used, among other things, in the aerospace, defense and space industries. Therefore, if scientists want to test such solutions, wind tunnels play a major role in them. Such facilities, of course, require significant energy resources, as evidenced by the history of China.

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Report the case South China Morning Newspaper. The information provided, which is not very detailed, shows that the newly constructed structure is about 3 meters wide. Its instruments reproduce hypersonic flight conditions at Mach 5, or about 6,120 kilometers per hour, or even higher. However, to achieve this goal, an efficient vacuum pump with a capacity of 13 MW is required.

China’s hypersonic wind tunnel is 3 meters wide

Thus, the demand for energy is so high that – instead of connecting the tunnel to the network – it is necessary to use diesel pumps. Pumps, of course, are only one of the many elements of the entire structure. Others, for example, high-voltage heaters used to ionize the air or fans to accelerate the air to high speeds.

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Since a hypersonic wind tunnel has to run for a certain amount of time in order to be able to make the required measurements, the problem is more complex than you think. Suffice it to say that the American tunnel allows simulating a flight at speeds up to Mach 10, and its width is one meter. Therefore, it requires a power supply of 57 megawatts. The Chinese facility is three times larger and could require 900 megawatts if the Chinese wish to conduct a hypersonic test under conditions of continuous Mach 8 wind flow. This would explain where the power problems came from.