E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (Wilmington, Del., U.S.A.) has introduced a new residential protection product called StormRoom, for shelter from hurricanes and tornados. The StormRoom is designed to withstand wind speeds as high as 250 mph and to deflect debris, such as flying wood timbers, moving at 100 mph. Since 1999, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has worked in cooperation with the Wind Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University on the design and construction of such structures, and the StormRoom meets FEMA criteria. A homeowner in Argyle, Texas, U.S.A., a suburb of Dallas, recently had a StormRoom installed in the new home's garage (see photo, upper right).
The StormRoom incorporates pre-engineered, 203-mm/8-inch-thick sandwich panels, each with an outer plywood face; a semi-rigid Kevlar laminate over energy-absorbing, expanded polystyrene foam core; and an inner plywood face. The Kevlar panel features Kevlar plies wetout with a proprietary thermoplastic resin — "enough" plies to resist design penetration loads, says the company.
The wall panels fit into galvanized steel tracks that are bolted into a home's concrete slab. A quick-cure epoxy is used with the bolts to increase pullout strength. Panels are connected to each other with steel edge and corner connectors, which are bolted into the panels. Installed StormRooms, which range in size from 1.2m by 1.8m (4 ft by 6 ft) to 2.5m by 2.5m (8 ft by 8 ft), are ventilated and can be finished to match the walls of the home and outfitted with plumbing and electricity, to suit the owner's wishes. Prices range from about $5,000 to $8,000 (USD).
In a series of tests conducted by an independent laboratory, a 3.7m/12-ft, 15-lb piece of lumber shot from a cannon at 100 mph was easily deflected by the shelter walls. Authorized contractors are currently selling the StormRoom in Oklahoma, Texas and Florida.