Del. company tests subway tunnel plug

By Associated Press 2:04pm, November 8, 2012
Engineers inspect the edges of an inflatable plug for a scale-model subway tunnel. (AP Photo/Vicki Smith)
Engineers at ILC Dover are working with researchers at West Virginia University and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on an inflatable plug that could protect subway and vehicle tunnels from flooding.

ILC is gathering results from the latest tests of the Resilient Tunnel Plug. They inflated the oblong balloon made of Space Age materials in a scale-model section of subway tunnel at a W-V-U airplane hangar.

Packed into the wall like an air bag, the plug flops out and inflates in about two minutes.

ILC engineer Jeff Roushey says that when fully inflated, the woven bands of Vectran are virtually impenetrable.

Homeland Security spokesman John Verrico says the technology is designed with transportation tunnels in mind but could also be used to block chemicals and gases.

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