Flood Balloon Could Plug Subway Tunnels

For coastal communities, the new reality of a changing climate means dealing with the effects of rising seas and massive storms. Just ask New Yorkers. Fortunately, there are smart people around the world dreaming up ways to defend against storm surges and flooding. At West Virginia University, researchers are at work on a seemingly simple engineering concept aimed at halting floodwaters in subway tunnels. The New York Times has the story:

The idea is a simple one: rather than retrofitting tunnels with metal floodgates or other expensive structures, the project aims to use a relatively cheap inflatable plug to hold back floodwaters.

In theory, it would be like blowing up a balloon inside a tube. But in practice, developing a plug that is strong, durable, quick to install and foolproof to deploy is a difficult engineering task, one made even more challenging because of the pliable, relatively lightweight materials required.

A giant subway tampon! Brilliant. Check the NYT video for more info. 

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