Environmental Flow Research Centre

Established in 1993 with funding from EPSRC, National Power, the Meteorological Office and the University of Surrey, our Centre, known as EnFlo, is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in atmospheric boundary layer flows and environmental aerodynamics.

Our main objectives

  • Provide world-leading wind-tunnel facilities in support of research in fluid flow and dispersion to both academy and industry.
  • Undertake research on flow and pollutant dispersion processes in the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, lakes and rivers.
  • Provide training and promote best practice in the use of laboratory modelling techniques in environmental fluid mechanics.

Research projects

Current projects

Past projects

The Dispersion of Air Pollution and Penetration into the Local Environment (DAPPLE) projects ran from 2002 to 2010 and brought together multidisciplinary expertise from six universities capable of undertaking urban fieldwork (Marylebone Road field site), wind tunnel and computational simulations in order to provide a better understanding of the physical processes affecting street and neighbourhood scale air flow and pollutant or contaminant dispersion, with a particular emphasis on individual exposure and source-receptor relationships.

In all, DAPPLE ran for nine years and clearly established the team involved as the only group in the UK experienced in conducting large-scale urban dispersion experiments. The projects were led by Professor Robins here at the University.

DAPPLE was EPSRC funded from 2002 to 2006 and concentrated on traffic pollutants. Home Office funding then followed from 2006 to 2010, when the emphasis shifted from the earlier concerns to the short range dispersion of hazardous, gaseous material, primarily addressing potential terrorist activities in London or similar urban conditions.

The TSB-EPSRC funded project, DYCE (2009-2010) built on the success of DAPPLE, but moved to address inverse modelling for source identification in open and urban environments. The work concentrated on the role of data quality on the uncertainty attached to outputs from the inversion process. An associated activity was to demonstrate the performance of new mobile monitors for detecting and identifying chemical agents. The lead organisation was Selex-Galileo.

MODITIC was an EDA project that ran from 2012 to 2015 and was led by the Norwegian Defence Research Institute. It treated the hazards associated with toxic industrial chemicals (e.g. chlorine, ammonia etc.) that are produced, transported and stored in relatively large quantities.

The consequences of accidental or intentional (operational or malicious) release of such compounds were of concern both to military and civilian authorities. The objective was to conduct a systematic study of the release and airborne dispersion of relevant chemicals in complex urban environments for a range of atmospheric conditions, to enhance our understanding of the processes involved and thus support improvements in modelling and backtracking techniques.

The novelty of the project was the focus on European style topographies and urban characteristics, in combination with negatively buoyant emissions and non-neutral atmospheric conditions. The project performed numerical simulations, wind tunnel dispersion experiments, related source term experiments and computations for releases from pressurised vessels.

The EPSRC funded DIPLOS project commenced in 2014 and ran for three years. It was led from Reading (Meteorology) and treated the street network dispersion modelling concept initially developed at ECL (France).

The intention was to use wind tunnel experimentation together with DNS and LES computational modelling to look closely at the underlying physics of dispersion in street networks and its relation to the basic assumptions of the street network modelling concept.

A parallel theme of research developed around offshore wind power, within the EPSRC funded SuperGen consortium, 2006-2014. This work concentrated on the structure and development of wind turbine wakes and the interaction between wakes and machines in large offshore arrays.

Its research utilised stable, neutral and unstable offshore boundary layers, establishing satisfactory simulations that widened the range of ‘standard’ flow conditions available in the EnFlo wind tunnel.

The theme of nano-particle dispersion in the atmosphere has established a new area of EnFlo research, in collaboration with colleagues in civil engineering.

The initial focus was on vehicle pollution, in particular processes that determine particle dispersion in vehicle wakes. This was the first project to utilise the new rolling road capability of the ‘Aero’ wind tunnel, a facility developed under SRIF 4 funding.

A series of projects for the HPA (now Public Health England) has been completed within the Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies EngD course. The first two covered health and related aspects of waste management and the third, odour, including an unusual example of long range odour transport (from Germany to the UK).

Other works were with Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital and treated the physics of short range dispersion from short, roof top stacks; the case study being emissions from the cyclotron facility at St Thomas’.

CONCAWE is based in Brussels and commissions environmental research on behalf of its members (mainly petrol-chemical industries). Projects at EnFlo have focussed on near-field dispersion at process plants and, in particular, the use of line integrated concentration measurements around a plant to estimate emission rates of hydrocarbons from leaks and similar sources.

The overall aim was to understand the uncertainties in the resulting estimates and to develop best practice for carrying out such work.

Get in contact

If you have any queries or would like to get involved with our research then please get in touch.

Placeholder image for staff profiles

Zilla Gardiner

Centre Administrator


We have numerous wind tunnels here in the Centre including our Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) - National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) meteorological wind tunnel and EnFlo tunnel which is one of few in the world which allow experiments to be carried out in controlled conditions simulating the Earth's atmosphere.

Who we collaborate with

UK universities

  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Reading
  • University of Southampton

Institutions and organisations

  • CERC
  • CONCAWE (Brussels)
  • DGA (France)
  • ECL (France)
  • EU (Marie Curie)
  • FFI (Norway)
  • FOI (Sweden)
  • Golder Associates (UK)
  • INERIS (France)
  • Owlstone
  • Sandia National Labs (USA)
  • Selex-Galileo
  • Sellafield, HPA (PHE) and NHS
  • Shell Global Solutions

Meet the team

Academic staff

Alan Robins profile image

Professor Alan Robins

Head of the Centre

David Birch profile image

Dr David Birch

Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Engineering

Matteo Carpentieri profile image

Dr Matteo Carpentieri

Senior Lecturer in Environmental Fluid Mechanics

Philip Hancock profile image

Dr Philip Hancock

Emeritus Reader in Fluid Mechanics

Marco Placidi profile image

Dr Marco Placidi

Lecturer in Experimental Fluid Mechanics

Technical staff

Paul Hayden profile image

Dr Paul Hayden

Research Fellow

Graham Webb profile image

Dr Graham Webb

Experimental Officer

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Allan Wells

Mechanical Systems Technician

Contact us

Find us

Centre for Aerodynamics and Environmental Flow
University of Surrey