Novel Deployable Storm Surge Protection for Coastal Cities

2016 Seed Grant

Award Period: 2016-2018

Climate change worsens hurricanes and coastal cities are vulnerable to storm surges caused by these hurricanes. Surge floods result in economic losses and the loss of life. Current flood-protection methods, such as seawalls, cause obstructions when not in use and pose risks to local ecologies. In this proposal, Sigrid Adriaenssens, an expert in lightweight civil structures, and Ning Lin, who specializes in natural hazards, will develop pneumatic dam technology to create a novel deployable barrier that blocks floodwaters. The core idea is that energy from storm-surge movement is absorbed by the flexible inflated barrier. However, designing such a flexible barrier is a challenging task due to fluid/structure interaction, the application of extreme loading, and the barrier’s unprecedented scale. This project will explore these challenges and solutions. The research tasks are to develop a non-linear time-domain analysis approach combining fluid flow and structural dynamics; determine the conditions under which the barrier would fail; and improve the dynamic response by introducing changes in initial form. If successful, the project will establish a novel paradigm for flood protection and promote flexible civil structures as viable systems to channel-hazard loads.

Educational Impacts

This project has broad educational undergraduate impact through scholarly conversations (Princeton University Energy Association and PU Sustainable Engineering and Development Scholars) and year-round research internships locally at Princeton and internationally at São Paulo University.

Collaborating Institutions


Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Additional Researchers