Reusable dam system for disaster zones patented

17 April 2013
By Edd Gent
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From left to right, Fernando Delgado Ramos, Jose Antonio Moreno Perez and Manuel Nuñez de Castro, next to the river Castril

From left to right, Fernando Delgado Ramos, Jose Antonio Moreno Perez and Manuel Nuñez de Castro, next to the river Castril

Researchers have patented a reusable dam that can be easily transported to emergency zones or developing countries.

The new system, designed by a team from the University of Granada, Spain, is based on placing modules as the foundations for building cheaper, inflatable hydraulic dams, which can be assembled and dismantled very easily and also reused.

This technique, which is the first of its kind in the world, enables a hydraulic dam to be assembled and dismantled in a matter of hours, with no specialized machinery required and minimal environmental damage, since it does away with the awkward job of installing a solid cement floor.

The system is one of modular foundations, made up of cuboid blocks, manufactured using a material that is both resistant and heavier than water, preferably concrete.

The modules are placed on a base and elements running through the blocks support the inflatable part of the dam that holds the water back.

"With this set-up, we manage to create a horizontal support for the pneumatic element, as well as obtaining an anchorage that is more resistant to the force of the water flow", explains University of Granada Department of Structures Mechanics and Hydraulic Engineering lecturer Fernando Delgado Ramos, one of the authors of the patent.

The prefabricated elements the dam is built from "are of a lower weight and size, and can be transported in 4x4s, small trucks, or even in containers that can be carried by helicopters", which means that they can be put in place quickly and easily and the system has a very low environmental impact.

The University of Granada researchers point out that, currently, "there is no other foundation system that has the same technical, structural or overall characteristics similar to those of this invention".

As well as Delgado Ramos, this patent has also been developed by University of Granada lecturers, Jose Antonio Moreno Perez and Manuel Nuñez de Castro Martin.

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