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(CNN)   Huge inflatable plugs being developed to protect subway tunnels from flooding, give your mom new contraceptive options   (cnn.com ) divider line
    More: Interesting, West Virginia University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, floods  
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4502 clicks; posted to Main » on 02 Nov 2012 at 10:13 AM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



68 Comments     (+0 »)
 
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2012-11-02 10:11:32 AM  
Ha! It looks like a giant suppository.
 
2012-11-02 10:16:55 AM  
Holding back pressurized water is one thing. I wonder if it will stop storm surge which is lots of water, moving quickly, filled with lots of junk.

Cool idea though, but I would want to see test data first before major investment...
 
2012-11-02 10:18:54 AM  
I thought that said pugs...

/I LOL'd
 
2012-11-02 10:19:47 AM  

Wicked Chinchilla: Holding back pressurized water is one thing. I wonder if it will stop storm surge which is lots of water, moving quickly, filled with lots of junk.

Cool idea though, but I would want to see test data first before major investment...


Really? You don't want them to spend millions of dollars producing these things to find out they don't work later? Revolutionary thinking.

/sorry, had to
 
2012-11-02 10:20:49 AM  
Just in time!
 
2012-11-02 10:21:22 AM  
Just about the right size to fit Subby's Mom too... might still need a few more PSI to hold it in though.
 
2012-11-02 10:22:00 AM  
sick burn.
 
gja
2012-11-02 10:22:09 AM  
Oh the pics that could end up in this thread............
 
2012-11-02 10:22:29 AM  
Lock the barndoor after the horse escapes? Kinda too late ain't it?
 
2012-11-02 10:22:45 AM  
Q-What is something most people have encountered plugging up surges of water in pipes.
A-Tampons.

Get a large plug that asorbs water and gets larger when made wet.

Giant tampons for giant tunnels.

/I think this was designed in Japan.
 
2012-11-02 10:23:07 AM  

Wicked Chinchilla: Holding back pressurized water is one thing. I wonder if it will stop storm surge which is lots of water, moving quickly, filled with lots of junk.

Cool idea though, but I would want to see test data first before major investment...


Well I can tell you from first hand experience it would be helpful but probably not enough.

I live literally yards away from one of the primary towers on the Holland Tunnel on the Jersey side. I sat here and literally watched as the surge flowed over the rail along the Hudson, consuming that tower, and most certainly racing down the air exchange pathways directly into the tunnel.

Securing the entrance is one thing... securing EVERY possible entry for water is something else...
 
2012-11-02 10:24:03 AM  
It is just me, or is this idea laughable. Trying to keep water from flooding an underground maze of interconnected tunnels, each with countless access hatches, leaks, sub-tunnels, etc is pretty much the definition of a fool's errand.

Trying to secure one particular tunnel from a potential gas leak or airborne radioactive material like from a dirty bomb is one thing, trying to keep an entire subway system from flooding is quite another.

But what do I know.
 
2012-11-02 10:24:44 AM  
Are they going to test them on Octomom?
 
2012-11-02 10:25:11 AM  
what void said
 
2012-11-02 10:26:56 AM  

aninconvenienterection: It is just me, or is this idea laughable. Trying to keep water from flooding an underground maze of interconnected tunnels, each with countless access hatches, leaks, sub-tunnels, etc is pretty much the definition of a fool's errand.

Trying to secure one particular tunnel from a potential gas leak or airborne radioactive material like from a dirty bomb is one thing, trying to keep an entire subway system from flooding is quite another.

But what do I know.


That's kinda what I thought. Trapping in fumes that could ignite. One spark, ka-boom!
 
2012-11-02 10:27:12 AM  
How do the plugs deal with non circular openings, like subway stations.
 
2012-11-02 10:29:23 AM  

Thisbymaster: How do the plugs deal with non circular openings, like subway stations.


These do not appear to be designed for the stations. Just the tubes.
 
2012-11-02 10:30:35 AM  
I read that as "huge inflatable pigs".

/Gotta stop listening to Animals I guess
 
2012-11-02 10:31:01 AM  

Thisbymaster: How do the plugs deal with non circular openings, like subway stations.


By expanding.

Put a balloon in a square opening, and inflate it. See what happens.
 
2012-11-02 10:32:30 AM  

gopher321: Ha! It looks like a giant suppository.


Yes, that looks like it would help keep the subways regular
 
2012-11-02 10:34:17 AM  

dittybopper: Thisbymaster: How do the plugs deal with non circular openings, like subway stations.

By expanding.

Put a balloon in a square opening, and inflate it. See what happens.


it mostly filled it, but left the corners open. whats your point?
 
2012-11-02 10:34:43 AM  
You will need hundreds and hundreds of plugs. Think of all the vents and access tunnels and escape hatches along the way. There are hundreds of openings. You could possibly put airbag like things in place at all of these, but its going to take a perfectly accurate survey of the system to start, including all the abandoned tunnels that connect to the main system.
 
2012-11-02 10:34:59 AM  
This is great excpet they already ahve to have pumps running 24 hours a day to keep the water out when there isn't a hurricane, so I don't really see how these things are going to help once the power goes out and the pumps fail.
 
2012-11-02 10:36:23 AM  
On the plus side - even if this costs $100 million to implement, it's probably less than the damage caused by a couple of good hurricanes.
 
2012-11-02 10:37:17 AM  
Installing some more pumps might not be a bad idea either.
 
2012-11-02 10:37:22 AM  
Plug or pig?
wonkette.com
 
2012-11-02 10:38:44 AM  
Accidentally over inflate it and you crack the tunnel.
 
2012-11-02 10:39:34 AM  

Enemabag Jones: /I think this was designed in Japan.


You don't want to know what they ram up the pipes in Japan...
 
2012-11-02 10:41:06 AM  
24.media.tumblr.com
 
2012-11-02 10:42:39 AM  
Next, government funding will be used to develop barn doors for people who have lost horses.
 
2012-11-02 10:47:48 AM  
So you plug the main tunnel. You still have service tunnels, doors, vents, fans, and cracks. Most tunnels have to be pumped out on a continual basis. Guess what happens when the power goes out?
 
2012-11-02 10:50:43 AM  

mudpants: Lock the barndoor after the horse escapes? Kinda too late ain't it?


vudukungfu: Next, government funding will be used to develop barn doors for people who have lost horses.


Because this was a unique event that will occur again.
 
2012-11-02 10:50:52 AM  

Bermuda59: Are they going to test them on Octomom?


i.imgur.com
Nope, they're going with a professional.
 
2012-11-02 10:52:58 AM  
They have river dams that are inflatable. The hold back a terflop of gigagallons of water and debris.

Pa. has one 2,100 feet long.

Surely you could jam one into a subway.
 
2012-11-02 10:55:42 AM  

gopher321: Ha! It looks like a giant suppository.


In New York, that's a butt plug.
 
2012-11-02 10:56:09 AM  

aninconvenienterection: But what do I know.


Well you don't know how to get a government contract that's lasted for 5 years and has come out with ONE plug that costs $400k.
 
2012-11-02 11:02:09 AM  
With Mother Nature giving us crazy weather, those tunnels will probably have to be plugged up every month..
 
2012-11-02 11:03:19 AM  

Where's the string?

Tampax
Super Subway

 
2012-11-02 11:11:41 AM  

lelio: aninconvenienterection: But what do I know.

Well you don't know how to get a government contract that's lasted for 5 years and has come out with ONE plug that costs $400k.


good point.

/but what a fine plug it is
 
2012-11-02 11:17:13 AM  
Where does the blocked water go?
 
2012-11-02 11:18:43 AM  
Will there be extra slim models for different size subway tunnels?
 
2012-11-02 11:28:00 AM  
 
2012-11-02 11:28:40 AM  
Well, I suspect one could deal with the issue of a debris puncture by using, say, multiple inflated layers.

To those saying "But there are thousands of entrances to the tunnels", the way I envision them using these is, say, have one every X feet in the tunnels. (X might be in the hundreds of feet? Dunno). So, when you seal everything up, you don't just put one seal at the beginning and end of the tunnel: You've got multiple seals, breaking it into sections.

*Some* of those sections will probably flood (Based on the aforementioned various other entrances, etc), but not all of them-so it will, at the very least, minimize the damage?

That is, assuming they deploy them that way.
 
2012-11-02 11:31:17 AM  
When you're building a new major sewer line to connect to an existing major sewer line this is the sort of thing you do to keep the shiat out until your project is done. I don't know if it would work in a subway tunnel for reasons mentioned above, i.e. more than one hole to fill.

As far as complaints about porous subway infrastructure.

www.ugl.com


ottosmom: I thought that said pugs...

/I LOL'd


cdn.ebaumsworld.com
 
2012-11-02 11:33:24 AM  
If you somehow block the water from draining to the tubes, where does it go topside?
 
2012-11-02 11:34:01 AM  
Wasn't drowning all the rats, homeless people and supervilians living in the tunnels a good thing?
 
2012-11-02 11:34:24 AM  

DammitIForgotMyLogin: Strangely familiar


heck yeah i knew this article seemed familiar. Guess somebody's earned a big pile of 'I told you so' karma.
 
2012-11-02 11:34:43 AM  

busy chillin': Wicked Chinchilla: Holding back pressurized water is one thing. I wonder if it will stop storm surge which is lots of water, moving quickly, filled with lots of junk.

Cool idea though, but I would want to see test data first before major investment...

Really? You don't want them to spend millions of dollars producing these things to find out they don't work later? Revolutionary thinking.

/sorry, had to


Why not? How would that be different from any other government project?
 
2012-11-02 11:40:44 AM  
Your mom's looks are effective contraception, subby.

/expect for that one time, it seems
 
2012-11-02 11:42:14 AM  
So how well will they hold up after multiple inflation and deflation cycles? And what's the shelf life where they can sit in a warehouse or on the subway wall before needing to be replaced because it won't hold air anymore?
 
2012-11-02 11:43:07 AM  
Those should stop the flow, period.
 
2012-11-02 11:47:05 AM  

dittybopper: Thisbymaster: How do the plugs deal with non circular openings, like subway stations.

By expanding.

Put a balloon in a square opening, and inflate it. See what happens.


The article says it expands/contracts to within 1% of its manufactured size. So they'd have to manufacture each and every plug to be contour specific to it's deployed location. Talk about a design flaw. Also: you could put a 30 cent bullet it in and render it completely useless.
 
2012-11-02 11:48:11 AM  

Nightsweat: You will need hundreds and hundreds of plugs. Think of all the vents and access tunnels and escape hatches along the way. There are hundreds of openings. You could possibly put airbag like things in place at all of these, but its going to take a perfectly accurate survey of the system to start, including all the abandoned tunnels that connect to the main system.


I dunno... this storm surge, and any storm surge made worse by high tide (meaning most of them), only lasted an hour or two. If you seal all the big openings, and most of the medium ones, what gets in thru the remaining little and forgotten ones is going to be significantly less, and significantly quicker to pump back out. Possibly the difference between a foot of water on the tracks, and six or ten feet of water that shorts out all the signalling and switching cabinets.

Tide gauge at The Battery in NYC during landfall of Sandy:

tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov
 
2012-11-02 11:51:38 AM  
I guess the saying that necessity is the mother of invention continues to hold true....or maybe I've just been playing too much X-Com. Anyhow, these events will begin to become more frequent in the future, so their use, even if delayed, will become apparent.

I don't want to think about all the electric wiring that will need to be replaced after having a seawater bath for a few days. If NYC can get their subway up before Thanksgiving, it'll be a miracle.

/stranger things have happened though
 
2012-11-02 11:53:55 AM  
No PLUG tag, Subby?
 
2012-11-02 11:56:18 AM  

nickerj1: you could put a 30 cent bullet it in and render it completely useless.


I have no idea why you think this matters. Are the hurricanes armed now?
 
2012-11-02 12:03:11 PM  

Joce678: busy chillin': Wicked Chinchilla: Holding back pressurized water is one thing. I wonder if it will stop storm surge which is lots of water, moving quickly, filled with lots of junk.

Cool idea though, but I would want to see test data first before major investment...

Really? You don't want them to spend millions of dollars producing these things to find out they don't work later? Revolutionary thinking.

/sorry, had to

Why not? How would that be different from any other government project?


oooh, that's some edgy sh*t. The US Government sucks at things.


/I'm in a mood today
 
2012-11-02 12:03:34 PM  

Matt Foley: If you somehow block the water from draining to the tubes, where does it go topside?


Kind of like sugar farmers in Hawaii importing mongooses (hunt during the day) to take care of the rat problem (hunt during the night) they probably haven't thought that part through yet. Better get another 5 year government contract.
 
2012-11-02 12:39:49 PM  
TFA: ""It's a little frustrating really that we weren't at a better stage at this thing.""

We'll all be lucky if they're actually done testing/revising/manufacturing and shipping enough of these to make a difference the *next time* a storm like this rolls through.
Odds are we'll have another in the next few years. Even if this thing works out there'll only likely be a handful ready by then.
 
2012-11-02 12:47:02 PM  
Matt Foley: "If you somehow block the water from draining to the tubes, where does it go topside?"

Everywhere else? And, for the most part, back to the ocean. Storm surge doesn't linger if it doesn't find low ground.
Sure, whatever -doesn't- go to the tunnels, would by definition stay topside and contribute to the energy/depth of the surge (compared to what you'd see if the surge wasn't getting diverted by tunnels). But the effect would be trivial considering the massive area of the surface vs tunnels. And what stays topside flows back out by itself. Which is key in getting things running again.
 
2012-11-02 01:16:23 PM  
Well they didn't have it ready in time for this storm, which was planned years in advance. I mean really, these developers had access to all the data needed down at the planetary severe weather office, and they STILL totally dropped the ball on being ready in time.

The project is clearly run by incompetents, the idea has absolutely no merit, and we should just let tunnels flood. It's not as if there is any electrical equipment in a subway tunnel. It's a hole in the ground, and all holes in the ground are completely impervious to water erosion. They simply cannot be damaged by a few raindrops. fark, I've got a sump pump in my basement that could have those tunnels cleared in 10 minutes. It moves like, a gallon a minute. With a mere 40,000,000 gallons in the tunnels, it will have them drained in 76 years. That's just a smidge more then a jiffy!
 
2012-11-02 01:19:26 PM  
Oh, I'm sorry. its not 40 million, it's 400 million gallons of water in those tunnels. My mistake.

It's gonna take 760 years to drain them at a gallon a minute.

Better bring 2 of those sump pumps so it's done in just 380 years.
 
2012-11-02 01:58:54 PM  
This is a porn trailer

right?
 
2012-11-02 02:09:49 PM  
A+B Foam and a farking weather balloon... we've had em for fifty farking years.

Just because the authority didn't use em doesn't mean they don't exist.
 
2012-11-02 02:21:18 PM  
[reads TFA]

Also... classic example of a good idea wandering in the la-la land of the military/industrial/homeland-security complex, aka Beltway Bandit Welfare. Where good ideas go to bloat into aimless, pork-infested caricatures of themselves.

www.plctalk.net

I expect that a decent civil-engineering contractor could've had these plugs built and tested in a 18 months or so. As someone pointed out upthread, they dam whole rivers this way, on a seasonal basis, so there aren't any Nobel-level breakthroughs needed here... just decent, solid engineering.
 
2012-11-02 02:39:32 PM  
I don't know why the Army Corps of Engineers doesn't just raise Manhattan a few meters.
 
2012-11-02 03:47:36 PM  
24.media.tumblr.com
 
2012-11-03 04:25:14 AM  

ottosmom: I thought that said pugs...

/I LOL'd


Hah, you too? 

wildcardjack: [Inflatable pug has deflated]


Haha!
 
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