Honda invests $124M in TRC wind tunnel

MARYSVILLE — Honda today announced a new investment of $124 million to establish a multifunctional aeroacoustic wind tunnel facility to advance vehicle innovation and enhance the world-class testing facilities at the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty. 

NSX Total Airflow Side

Total Airflow Management simulation by Honda R&D Americas, Inc., illustrated here during the development of the all-new 2017 Acura NSX, is integral to aerodynamic and aeroacoustic analysis. (IMAGE | HONDA)

The groundbreaking is slated for late summer 2017.

“This new facility will further enhance our ability to efficiently create products of the highest quality for our customers,” said Frank Paluch, president of Honda R&D Americas Inc. “It will be integral to our aerodynamic and aeroacoustic R&D activity, which spans from advanced research and computer simulation, through scale-model and full vehicle development, to production vehicle performance assurance. And all of this is being done right here in the U.S.” 

The new aeroacoustic wind tunnel facility will reinforce Honda’s commitment to developing fuel-efficient and fun-to-drive performance-based vehicles.  

The wind tunnel will utilize a unique interchangeable belt system capable of testing both production vehicles and racecars.  

It features a five-belt rolling road system designed for the development of production vehicles and a second, single/wide belt system designed for testing high-performance sports cars and purpose-built race vehicles.

Wind speeds of up to 192 mph can be produced in the tunnel.

“This innovative and industry leading asset provides us with another distinct reason for our customers to take advantage of the world-class testing facilities we have in Ohio at TRC,” said Mark-Tami Hotta, president and CEO of the Transportation Research Center.

The aeroacoustic wind tunnel facility will have space for four secure and confidential customer bays, providing the opportunity for use by customers other than Honda.

The advanced acoustic design will drive the next generation of wind noise reduction by utilizing a strategic system of microphones and cameras set up to measure and identify potential noise issues on both the exterior and interior of a vehicle during the development stage.

Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. purchased TRC from Ohio in January 1988. The Ohio State University was a major beneficiary, as $6 million of the sale went to the College of Engineering at Ohio State to establish a transportation research endowment fund. 

TRC has continued to operate as an independent testing and research facility with surplus funds from the operation of TRC funding other endowments at the College of Engineering. 

To date, more than $54 million generated by TRC has gone to OSU to support and advance transportation research. 

This relationship is evident in the wind tunnel project as well, with OSU investing in faculty, staff and students to work alongside Honda researchers at TRC.