|July 12, 2006
Topping Out Ceremony for New Audi Climatic Wind Tunnel
With the construction of the climatic wind tunnel, Audi will further extend its proverbial "Vorsprung durch Technik". Today's topping out ceremony sees the completion of the structural shell of the building, and the finishing work can begin. "We are pleased to have completed this important step on time," says Dr. Stefan Dietz, project manager for the climatic wind tunnel. Investment for the entire project amounts to over ten million. Completion is planned for the end of July 2007. Seven members of staff will then be employed in shifts in the climatic wind tunnel.
In contrast to the already available thermal wind tunnel, the climatic wind tunnel can also cool the temperature down to below zero, thus achieving a maximum temperature range from minus 40 to plus 55 degrees Celsius. As a result of this, the developers can test not only the cooling performance of the oil and water circuits, the engine or the interior when exposed to extreme heat, but also the operation of the individual systems under icy cold conditions.
At the heart of the wind tunnel lies the fan, which blows the air through a six-square-metre nozzle into the testing section at over 250 kilometres per hour. Thanks to the large nozzle, which has twice the cross-section of the thermal wind tunnel, it is possible to develop and further improve the latest generation of cars without any difficulty. With the new wind tunnel, Audi is ideally prepared for trends towards tall SUVs such as the Audi Q7. There is also plenty of room in the tunnel for extremely wide sports cars such as the Lamborghini Murcielago.
In order to be able to test under conditions that are as realistic as possible, the engineers have plans for simulated sunlight delivering up to 1200 watts per square metre, and also for rain and spray simulation. With the rain simulation, the dirtying of the door mirrors and side windows in rain can be further reduced. The developers are also able to test and optimise the windscreen wipers, even under extreme loads such as are encountered at high speeds, for example.
When planning this facility, Audi was of course thinking of its wide range of quattro models: the engineers have provided dual-axle drive, delivering 150 kW (204 bhp) to each axle, for the vehicles with permanent four-wheel drive. In combination with the conditioning rooms and a snow simulation, which is still in preparation, results can be achieved in the field of climate control technology that are absolutely identical with real conditions.
The climatic wind tunnel is part of the AUDI AG wind tunnel centre in Ingolstadt. The wind tunnel centre, covering six thousand square metres, includes three wind tunnels, in which 51 members of staff are currently employed. In addition to its main focus – the development and further optimisation of the models from Audi, its subsidiaries and Group brands – the wind tunnels also offer outstanding research conditions for top sports stars. Visitors in recent years have included skiers from Germany, Switzerland and Sweden, as well as the Australian swimming star and Audi ambassador, Ian Thorpe. The top athletes use the Audi wind tunnel to optimise their posture and their equipment, in order to increase their chances of winning.