CURRENT PROJECT: Resilience, inflated barriers and storm surge loading

Climate change worsens hurricanes and coastal cities are vulnerable to storm surges caused by these hurricanes. Surge floods result in economic losses and loss of life. Current flood protection technology, such as seawalls, cause obstructions while not in use and pose risks to local ecologies. I propose to adapt existing pneumatic dam for a novel concept of a deployable barrier that blocks floodwaters. The core idea is that energy of the storm surge movement is absorbed by the flexible inflated barrier.  However, designing such a flexible barrier is a challenging task due to the fluid/structure interaction, the application of extreme loading and its unprecedented scale. This project explores these challenges and solutions. The research tasks are to i) develop a non-linear time domain analysis approach combining fluid flow and structural dynamics; ii) determine under what conditions the barrier fails; and iii) improve the dynamic response by introducing changes in initial form.  If successful, the project will establish a novel paradigm for flood protection technology and promote flexible civil structures as viable systems to channel hazard loads.