Comparison of Reynolds averaging Navier-Stokes (RANS) turbulent models in predicting wind pressure on tall buildings

24 January 2019

This paper presents a detailed comparison of using Reynolds Averaging Navier-Stokes (RANS) approach in predicting wind pressure on a super-tall 406 m slender tower with circular cross-section. The results obtained from wind tunnel tests using a rigid model approach in a boundary layer wind tunnel (BLWT) were compared to that of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) numerical simulations. The main objective of this study is to critically investigate the possibility of using RANS turbulent model based CFD approach in tall building design. Three different RANS turbulence models were compared with the wind tunnel data in predicting flow characteristics. The detailed wind tunnel experimental procedure and numerical approach are discussed and presented. It was shown that the shear stress transport (SST) variant model,could predict pressure coefficients comparable to that of the wind tunnel experiments. The influence of flow separation point on flow characterisation and pressure prediction is highlighted. The improvement that can be made in the near-wall region in the finite volume mesh to achieve an accurate separation point is presented. The effects of Reynolds number produced in the wind tunnel and scaled-down numerical models were compared with the anticipated full-scale flow Reynolds number. Hence, it is shown that a correct modelling technique in CFD using RANS turbulence models can be used as an alternative design approach of super-tall structures to estimate wind-induced pressures.