China is building the world’s fastest hypersonic wind tunnel to develop a new generation of super-fast airplanes that could fly from Beijing to New York within two hours, official media reported.
A wind tunnel is a tool used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects. Engineers use wind tunnels to test models of aircraft, automobiles and other machines.
“The 265-metre-long tunnel can be used to test hypersonic aircraft that can travel at speeds of up to Mach 25 (30,625 kph), 25 times the speed of sound,” Han Guilai, a researcher with China’s State Key Laboratory of High Temperature Gas Dynamics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said.
Han said the current wind tunnel could simulate flights ranging from Mach 5 to 9. Researchers from CAS in Beijing have successfully tested one hypersonic plane in a wind tunnel at such speeds, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The research was published in the journal ‘Science China: Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy’ last month, the report said.
It unveiled the ‘I Plane’ model, which is capable of transporting people and payloads from Beijing to New York within two hours, beating any commercial airline flight which now takes over 13 hours.
The new wind tunnel will help China take the lead in wind tunnel building, though competition from other countries is still fierce, Han said.
“The new tunnel will aid the engineering application of hypersonic technology by duplicating the environment of extreme hypersonic flights. Once issues are discovered during these ground tests, they will be ironed out before test flights begin,” Han said.