First built in the 1960s, the tow tank in the basement of Hampton Hall will be renovated by the end of 2016.
According to Cary Troy, associate professor of civil engineering, the facility, owned by civil engineering’s hydraulic and hydrologic engineering department, was built along with the building itself. It is designed to tow objects through a tank of water using a carriage at the top, which would allow researchers to measure, for example, the drag force from the fluid to the object.
Purdue’s civil engineering website also states that the tank is equipped with a water filtration system, viewing ports to obtain flow images, underwater load cells and a suite of underwater pressure transducers. The tank itself resembles a swimming pool, 150 feet long by 11 feet wide, with a 5-foot deep water basin.
Even though the tank was still around, it fell into disrepair toward the end of the last century. In fact, the last time anyone had ever used it was back in 2007, when Troy tried conducting experiments in it. He recalled, “By that point, (the tank) was basically inoperable.”
Preparations for the renovations began about three years ago, when the civil and mechanical engineering departments received a grant from Purdue to overhaul the facility. Hopefully, Troy says, the facility will be better than it was before. “We’ll be able to tow objects at high speeds through this large facility, which is pretty novel to be able to go fast (with) large things.”
The tank will also include a new wavemaker, measuring wave frequencies, at one end of the facility. This will allow the tank to be used in coastal engineering studies, as well as hopefully during potential fluid mechanics classes or other applicable courses. “You could (potentially) do tests in here, towing tests or testing your design. So the hope is, you can use this for educational purposes.”
When completed, Troy hopes there will be a ceremony to commemorate the occasion. Even though there is no official name planned for the facility just yet, Troy says that for now, it will be known as the Purdue Towing Tank.