In a quiet Williston office park, a new breeze is blowing. The Danish-based company SOH this week unveiled its new wind tunnel project.
Svend Ole Hansen is the company's principal and a veteran of wind tunnel research.
"In the last 40 years, there have been many, many questions which I could not answer because of limitations in the tunnel size, but now with this facility we are maybe not give answers to all the questions, but at least to some of them," Hansen said.
Questions like how wind vibrations affect a long-span bridge or a tall building.
As to the question of why Williston, you need to look no farther than Hinesburg-based NRG Systems, a world leader in wind measurement devices.
"So having a facility like this 10 miles up the road is significant for us in terms of logistics and ease of business and what we're doing for our customers," said Jan Blomstrann of NRG.
The company used to ship their devices off to California and Copenhagen for calibration at a cost of nearly half a million a year.
On this day, the SOH team is calibrating the first of what will become a daily routine of calibrating hundreds of NRG anemometers and other products.
The SOH wind tunnel is powered by two 125 horsepower turbines. And at 40 meters long, it's not only the largest wind tunnel in Vermont; it's one of the largest calibration wind tunnels in the world.
And when it comes to calibration of these delicate instruments or testing designs of other structures, bigger is better.
"Size makes the measurements better," Hansen said.
NRG officials say bringing the project here shows a real commitment to Vermont's future in the wind industry.
"There just aren't many wind tunnels in the world, so to have one this sophisticated and this large and here in Vermont is just a significant development for science and technology alone," Blomstrann said.
In addition to NRG and the other engineering firms that will be able to use the tunnel, one of the key beneficiaries will be the University of Vermont.
"This will be one of the premier wind engineering facilities in the world and so we will have the real opportunity to have our students come here, do internships, work and go out into the industry," said Dryver Huston of UVM.
Two of Huston's engineering students are already on staff here and the company says there will be opportunities for others.
There are currently two wind tunnels in operation in the Williston warehouse. Two more are planned soon, making for a total private investment of nearly $3.5 million.
Something new blowing in the wind in Williston…
The project was partly funded by a $150,000 grant from the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive.
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