Stronger glass designed to withstand hurricane damage

During hurricane season coastal residents keep a close eye on the weather. A quiet period in the tropics, as any hurricane survivor can tell you, is no reason to let your guard down.

Preparation is the key, and homeowners are always looking for the best way to protect their property should a storm come knocking. Hurricanes often deliver a one-two punch to homes in their path. First flying debris knocks out windows, and then pouring rain ruins what's left exposed.

Mechanical and aerospace engineer Sanjeev Khanna watched it happen first-hand, "I was looking out the window and saw a tree. It twisted around, and it broke and fell right on my window."

Many years later that memory led Dr. Khanna to work on a new kind of glass that could withstand the storm, "You will not have to board up, you know, use all these additional materials."

The glass he developed will withstand a bullet flying 100 miles an hour. Tests show it will hold together through storms with debris coming at similar speeds, "In doing that it will protect the inside, the occupants and the belongings."

Glass expert Bob Lacovara of the American Composite Manufacturers Association says it's a definite step above the previous technology, "It's very, very strong glass that you could hit with a baseball bat and it would not break."

Khanna started with a traditional sandwich of material, two pieces of glass with an inner layer of protection, and improved the middle, "The one major difference is that our glass has an inner layer, which is made of fiberglass-reinforced polymer."

He says the fibers run at different angles, so when debris hits the window the stress waves disperse through it, reducing the shock to the glass, "It quickly dissipates that stress wave and helps to maintain the integrity of the glass panel."

The glass is still undergoing tests and is expected to be available commercially in about two years. The glass is expected to be about ten percent higher than others on the market. It's hoped the extra cost will be evened out by lower insurance rates.

600450 Stronger glass designed to withstand hurricane damage
Date: 8 July 2004

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