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Natural ventilation of a small-scale road tunnel by wind catchers: A CFD simulation study

Liu, Shanhe, Luo, Zhiwen ORCID:, Zhang, Keer and Hang, Jian 2018. Natural ventilation of a small-scale road tunnel by wind catchers: A CFD simulation study. Atmosphere 9 (10) , 411. 10.3390/atmos9100411

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Providing efficient ventilation in road tunnels is essential to prevent severe air pollution exposure for both drivers and pedestrians in such enclosed spaces with heavy vehicle emissions. Longitudinal ventilation methods like commercial jet fans have been widely applied and confirmed to be effective for introducing external fresh air into road tunnels that are shorter than 3 km. However, operating tunnel jet fans is energy consuming. Therefore, for small-scale (~100 m–1 km) road tunnels, mechanical ventilation methods might be highly energetically expensive and unaffordable. Many studies have found that the use of wind catchers could improve buildings’ natural ventilation, but their effect on improving natural ventilation in small-scale road tunnels has, hitherto, rarely been studied. This paper, therefore, aims to quantify the influence of style and arrangement of one-sided flat-roof wind catchers on ventilation performance in a road tunnel. The concept of intake fraction (IF) is applied for ventilation and pollutant exposure assessment in the overall tunnel and for pedestrian regions. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methodology with a standard k-epsilon turbulence model is used to perform a three-dimensional (3D) turbulent flow simulation, and CFD results have been validated by wind-tunnel experiments for building cross ventilation. Results show that the introduction of wind catchers would significantly enhance wind speed at pedestrian level, but a negative velocity reduction effect and a near-catcher recirculation zone can also be found. A special downstream vortex extending along the downstream tunnel is found, helping remove the accumulated pollutants away from the low-level pedestrian sides. Both wind catcher style and arrangement would significantly influence the ventilation performance in the tunnel. Compared to long-catcher designs, short-catchers would be more effective for providing fresh air to pedestrian sides due to a weaker upstream velocity reduction effect and smaller near-catcher recirculation zone. In long-catcher cases, IF increases to 1.13 ppm when the wind catcher is positioned 240 m away from the tunnel entrance, which is almost twice that in short-catcher cases. For the effects of catcher arrangements, single, short-catcher, span-wise, shifting would not help dilute pollutants effectively. Generally, a design involving a double short-catcher in a parallel arrangement is the most recommended, with the smallest IF, i.e., 61% of that in the tunnel without wind catchers (0.36 ppm).

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Additional Information: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Publisher: MDPI
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 31 August 2022
Date of Acceptance: 15 October 2018
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2022 11:44

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