Holding Back Floodwaters With a Balloon
The idea is a simple one: rather than retrofitting tunnels with metal floodgates or other expensive structures, the project for the federal Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate aims to use a relatively cheap inflatable plug to hold back floodwaters.
“The goal is to provide flooding protection for transportation tunnels,” said John Fortune, who is managing the project for the federal Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.
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.
More testing is in progress, but the idea of a giant balloon essentially acting as a plug is great. A fine example of how to think outside the box.