Pat Shingleton for Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Discarded liners used to encase offshore oil rig piping were recognized as a model of “green” engineering and are being recycled for another important use. In tornado prone areas, storm shelters provide valuable protection. The National Storms Shelter Association tests products to improve storm shelters. Recently, the Texas Tech Debris Impact Test Facility fired 15-pound two-by-fours from a pressure cannon that did not penetrate the panels. The wooden projectiles hit the discarded liners at 100 mph, replicating objects that exit a funnel cloud. Applying modern materials science to storm shelters started after Hurricane Katrina and was advanced after 62 tornadoes ravaged Alabama. The newly designed panels are made of thermoplastic and Fiberglas resins and fibers and are stronger per density unit than steel. Fastcast: Spotty showers.