Company Designing Inflatable Plug for Water Stoppage

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Inflatable PlugEveryone on the east coast was affected by Hurricane Sandy, which brought heavy rain and destructive wind to many. No areas were more damaged than New York and New Jersey, each of which took massive hits from a storm surge that was caused by ocean swelling. The flooding in these areas took out homes and in some cases, entire towns. It could be argued that the surge created one of the most surreal scenes – subway tunnels and stations filled completely with water in lower Manhattan.

Keeping this type of scene in mind, a company in Delaware has begun development of an inflatable system that would stop this type of tunnel flooding in the future. According to NewsZap, ILC Dover is looking to create a structural inflatable over the next 5 years:

ILC Dover Director of Engineer­ing Dave Cadogan said the evolving Resilient Tunnel Plug is “ pushing the limits of anything that has ever been built in the way of structural inflatables” and more than 100 com­pany members have worked on it in the past 2 ½ years. The company has teamed with West Virginia Univer­sity researchers and the U.S. Depart­ment of Homeland Security to fine­tune the giant plugs.”

The inflatable plug is protected by a Vectran fiber blanket, which is almost totally impenetrable, the article says. Vectran is comprised of a yarn spun from polymers that makes the blanket five times stronger than steel. Recently, the company tested the new plug:

“This week, the DHS tested the subway tunnel plug in an airplane hangar at WVU. Packed like an air bag, the oblong balloon made of Space Age materials flopped out of the wall of a scale-model approximately 17-foot diameter subway tunnel that WVU engineers developed several years ago, inflating in about two minutes, according to The Associated Press.”