The Ohio State University (OSU) and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) developed a 6 X 18 inch low velocity Rheologic Research Tunnel to do flow visualization and other experimental fluid studies, particularly on scaled-up models of cardiovascular devices, such as the CCF's Innovative Ventricular Assist System. The large test section (TS) permits detailed data to be obtained that would be inaccessible with a smaller test prototype. A particular feature of the OSU-CCF program is the use of a non-Newtonian blood analog (NNBA), so the effect of the shear-thinning behavior of blood on the local development of separation, stagnation, and flow patterns can be studied. The TS can simulate a pressure driven slit flow of 6 X 18 in., or the external flow around a vane or blade having an aspect ratio of 1. Maximum pressure is 8.5 psig, while the maximum velocity is 21.7 in/sec. The fluid supply tank has a capacity of 500 gal of NNBA and, with its associated filtration and circulation systems, can be adapted to studies of large transparent models better studied outside the TS. Using 2 pumps, flow rates of 98–610 gal/min can be provided. Instrumentation includes thermistors, a 48 port pressure scanner with pressure transducers, a data acquisition system, and a digital video camera. Dye and hydrogen bubble systems have been developed. Development of such a facility presents problems not encountered in more typical water tables or wind tunnels. These include fundamental issues such as providing a uniform flowfield; practical issues with respect to priming, operating, and obtaining data from the system; and safety considerations. For the very large volume of NNBA, a xanthan gum solution is used, whose shear-thinning behavior depends not only on concentration, but also on age and prior shear history. The lessons learned are presented, permitting others to efficiently develop systems suitable to their testing needs. ASAIO Journal 1997; 43:M625-M631.
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