Phenomena

Mercedes-Benz Tornado

The world’s most powerful artificial tornado is part of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. Though popular enough with visitors that the staff will bring out smoke generators to make it visible, the tornado was not built as an attraction – It’s actually part of the building’s fire protection system. The modern open design of the museum meant that conventional smoke removal systems were inadequate. Instead vorticity is generated in the central lobby with 144 wall-mounted jets. The angular velocity created by the jets is strongest at the middle, in the vortex core, due to conservation of angular momentum – exactly the way a spinning ice skater speeds up by pulling his arms in. The core of the vortex is a low pressure area, which draws outside air toward it – this is how the tornado pulls in smoke when there is a fire. The fan on the ceiling provides the pressure draw necessary for the smoke to be pulled up and out of the building at a supposed rate of 4 tons per minute. See the tornado in action here. (Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz Passion; submitted by Ivan)

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