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ILC Dover develops tunnel plug to stop flooding

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ILC Dover, a material science and engineering firm, yesterday revealed its latest product: a giant, inflatable plug designed to close off tunnels to everything from flood water to chemicals.

The Frederica-based company made its name designing spacesuits for NASA. But now it’s taking its expertise in powerful, flexibles materials underground.

“The Resilient Tunnel Plug (RTP) is a scalable technology that is intended to plug rail, automotive, or other tunnels from threats, including water,” according to the company website.

The product is a decade in the making, drawing support from the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, West Virginia University, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Once installed, the plugs can engage manually or automatically, inflating out of special canisters built into the tunnel wall. The goal is to deploy these plugs in rail tunnels across the country, especially in flood-prone major cities such as New York City.

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