Inflatable Structures for Hazard Mitigation

Tunnels have long been recognized as being vulnerable in the event of an attack, accident, or natural disaster that may lead to flooding, fire, smoke, deadly gases, or other hazards. An inflatable plug can seal off and protect the rest of the underground system by stopping these hazards. Unlike floodgates, an inflatable plug is fast-deploying, relatively inexpensive, and can be quickly installed in a small space in an existing tunnel or conduit. The concept was demonstrated in August 2008 in the DC Metro System with promising results. Later prototypes have demonstrated the ability of blocking the flow of pressurized liquid and gas through a tunnel. Testing was performed in WVU's full-scale tunnel facility, a 50-foot long x 16.2-foot diameter steel tunnel mock-up that can be configured to emulate a variety of real tunnel geometries and operating conditions.

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Dr. Ever Barbero, Professor and Principal Investigator, Tel: +1-304-293-3176

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