DOST wind tunnel to simulate storms


Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Saying it would help prevent a repeat of the destruction wrought by Typhoon “Pablo,” the Department of Science and Technology on Saturday unveiled plans to build a tunnel that would test the resiliency of structures to varying wind speeds.

Science Secretary Mario Montejo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that subjecting structures to the wind tunnel could help authorities determine which materials could withstand winds moving at 175 kilometers per hour, 200 kph and 250 kph, among other speeds.

This information, Montejo said, would help reduce the number of casualties and damage to property when storms hit the country.

“When someone says the wind is moving at 175 kph, people can’t relate to that. They’re just not sure if their buildings can withstand that,” Montejo said.

According to Montejo, by subjecting actual structures to varying wind speeds in the tunnel, structural engineers can also determine the manner by which buildings should be constructed.

Although still in the planning stage, Montejo said the wind tunnel would be built either near the Philippine Atmospheric Geological and Astronomical Administration (Pagasa) or the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, or near DOST headquarters in Taguig City.

He said the budget for construction of the tunnel, which he estimated would amount to “tens of millions,” would come from funds approved by the Department of Budget and Management for the agency’s research and development programs.

He said he was targeting the completion of the tunnel by next year.

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  • Harry

    While we still have to construct wind tunnel, our structural engineers can travel now to observe the structures that withstood the fury of Bopha and learn what designs and materials to use in their trade. 

  • LV

    Secretary Montejo’s proposal is well-intentioned however, it is very much misguided. Casualties during typhoons are predominantly caused by flash flooding rather than strong winds. In fact, a number of relatively weak tropical storm systems (in terms of wind speed) have caused significant deaths e.g., Uring, Ondoy, Sendong, Winnie, etc, due to flooding compared with Cat 4/5 typhoons. Even the recent Typhoon Pablo, although it is Cat 4 typhoon, majority of the deaths are attributable to flash flooding rather than extreme winds.

    Not much valuable information can be gained from creating a wind tunnel at the cost of tens of millions. Damage for various wind speeds are well defined – in fact the typhoon signal classification by PAGASA is based on wind speeds correlated with wind damage and it simple enough for ordinary people to understand the definition given in this system. Structural engineers are already well aware of design requirements for structural reinforcements given wind criterion/specification. Furthermore, by simply surveying the structures in the storm path, it can easily be deduced which structural design works well and which ones doesn’t. Also, we have enough typhoon each year to see actual behavior of structures during high winds that any artificial simulations would not accurately model anyways.

    If the government has the money to spare, why not invest in improving weather and flood warning systems? In some countries, sophisticated weather warning system (i.e., on-line rain gathering stations, Doppler radar in multiple locations, etc), coupled with on-line water level gauges on rivers gives accurate information and timely warning on potential flash flooding. PAGASA is woefully underfunded, and as a consequence, the public suffers in the absence of accurate warning system. It would be an injustice to the taxpayers and those who have lost their love ones to storms if valuable resources are used only to fund someone’s pet project.

    • Bansot

      A very sensible argument. Since time immemorial we are a place which is visited by an average of 18 storms a year, so most of our ordinary people understand the fury of nature.We don’t need more technical data than we  have now to know that there is nothing that man can build which can withstand the havoc brought about by mother nature. We can surely mitigate our losses , if we only stop damaging our own environment.i..e. logging , dumping of garbage,) Citizens must also co operate with the government authorities , must  heed the warnings, evacuate from their places when asked to do so, instead of doing this in the last minute. We must be “PRO ACTIVE”!!!

  • Pork_Republik

    Another good idea, not only that wind tunnels can help research for typhoons and other wind related effects of nature, it can also be used for future SRDP of our armed forces in designing Philippines own military aircraft, missiles and rockets. Also, I think it can also be used further for designing wind turbine generator that is affordable to be implemented by far flung local government units that are too far from the main power grid. 

    • LV

      Not really. Typhoons are max up to 300-350 km/hr. Modern aircraft speeds ranges from 500km/hr to supersonic speeds (> 1 Mach). The wind tunnel has to be at least 0.3 Mach (0.3 of speed of sound or 366  km/hr) for it to be useful for designing aircraft, missiles and rockets. Anything below 0.3 Mach would not be useful, as it does not account for compressibility effects of air which is commonly encountered in aircraft, missiles and rockets. And for Secretary Montejo’s budget, I don’t think they are intending to design the wind tunnel to be of >0.3 Mach, which could cost hundred of millions of pesos.

  • EdgarEdgar

    Mario Montejo, his new toy and his tunnel vision. With a price tag of tens of millions of pesos.

  • initrd

    No wind tunnel is not the answer. Its not what is necessary, there are plenty people who are suffering because food is not enough, more than the people who suffers because of natural calamity. There are plenty of sick people in our hospitals because of the food that we eat.

  • tonyoks

    kukurakutin lang ng mga to ang budget nito…
    kita na ngang nagkabuwalan na lahat…pag-aaralan pa kung gaano katibay bahay ng mga nasiraan na?
    eh kung ibudget na lang nila ito sa pagpatayo ng mas matibay na tirahan para sa mga nasalanta nating kababayan???pagpalipat sa mas ligtas na lugar na tirahan, mukhang may saysay pa!!!

  • Pogi=”No To Political Dynasty”

    Kahit anong kaganda at gagawin na proyekto kung hindi ititigil ang trosohan at minahan walang silbi. Magsasayang lang at nanakawin ang pera para sa proyektong yan. 

  • Ben

    Good, this can also be used in researching or designing cars, airplanes, missile/rocket structure and many other things….keep up your good work.

  • Rohl

    i wasn’t surprised that the wind tunnel could be built in UP Diliman (one of the options, and may eventually be THE option). lagi na lang dun. haay. di lang po yan ang SUC sa bansang ito.

    i suggest i-develop nyo muna ang public school system sa pinas, di yang NAPAKAMURANG wind tunnel na yan. that won’t put food in the tables of the poor people in this country. project NOAH is enough.

  • blainz

    Build it in UP, so it can be easily accessed by students in civil and mechanical engineering. Another research facility needed is a large earthquake simulator.

    Tens of millions is a pittance compared to the loss exacted by typhoons and other natural calamities.

    Science pays off in the long-term. Neglecting scientific and engineering research is one of the reasons for the continued brain drain of this country.

    • Pork_Republik

       Yes I agree. Learning from actual experiments and deducing from actual data is much more rewarding than simply picking up data from standard textbooks and data sheets, throwing them into your equations. Test centers and research facilities could in fact help germinate local innovation and technology that is low costs and practical to the Filipino mindset.

      I believe test facilities that do research on the forces of nature will be a good investment for the Philippines, considering what used to be abnormal conditions some time ago is now absolutely normal.

  • kismaytami

    A wind tunnel helping to prevent destruction brought by typhoons??? PAG-ASA can’t even predict the exact heading of typhoons. And tens of millions for a building with a big fan and some computers. What a price tag!

    I think it is more effective to execute illegal loggers and their supporting government officials, plus reforestation?

    • Elmer Vinzon Camaganacan


  • linda way

    the big picture is to stop the illegal businesses being done to hur the environment. besides illegal logging/mining- you need zoning, determine areas for housing and standard of housing – should withstand storms like pablo. you also need emergency planning- evacuation process, centers; food, medicine,clothing, battery operated radios/flashlights, etc. for several days/weeks. 
    any expensive or sophisticated weather systems are useless without using it to plan and improve the environment. these systems should help warn people when to act but people should understand how to be prepared.

  • Arvin Memaphu

    sayang lang pera ng bayan dyan. ang dapat matigil na ang logging at mining! at ipatupad yung hindi pagpapatira sa delikadong lugar. kung ang gagawin lang nila ay simulation ng bagyo pwede na nilang makuga ang info na yan sa ibang bansa tulad  us at carribean island at japan.

    at dapat parusang bitay para sa mga big time na nagnanakaw (loggers /mining company) ng likas na yaman. dahil sila ang isa sa pinakamaraming pinatay na taong bayan.

    • Elmer Vinzon Camaganacan

      As Science Secretary Mario Montejo mentioned about this Structural Engineering simulation for strong typhoon or bagyo ay already available, tested and proven at makukuha ang detail informations sa ibang bansa from US, Caribbean island, Japan and European countries. Spending millions on building tunnel project is just another loophole for corruption.

  • itsumo

    Napakabobo naman kung sino ang may idea nito. Bakit di nalang kayo  mag punta sa Batanes at tanungin niyo yung nakatira doon kung paano nilang nakayanan lahat ng bagyong dumadaan kada taon.

    Kung ang bahay natin ay kasing tatag nung katulad sa batanes siguro malamang kunting pinsala sana ang ating nararanasan ngayon.

    Kahit anong tibay ng bahay mo rin kung gabundok na bato naman ang sasagasa sa inyo sapol parin kayo.

    Matanong nga may taga DENR nabang napakulong ng dahil sa pagsira ng kalikasan? Malamang hirap din itong sagotin kasi si Ampatuan nga hanggang ngayon wala pa ring nangyari. Makitira na nga sa Batanes mukhang mas safe pa yatang mamuhay doon.

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