HOUSTON, TX (September 16, 2004) Flowbarrier CEO Jamal Siyaj invented a device used to impede the flow of water for marine construction and flood control. When he encountered a different kind of barrier, a barrier to success, he submitted a Request for Technical Assistance to the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP).
The prototype of the portable dam consisted of three tubes stacked in a trapezoidal manner, interconnected by seals to allow the liquid to flow from tube to tube. Siyaj requested a computer aided analysis of the prototype to identify where stressors would occur on the Flowbarrier product. He specifically wanted to know if the bottom seal should have been extended further than the top two seals.
SATOP matched United Space Alliance Engineer Daniel Crew with the Flowbarrier challenge. Crew set up a series of experiments that identified the stress points of the seals, measured the tension in the interior structure and examined the behavior of the tubes in a body of water having current flows from various directions.
As a result of the experiments, the original concern of the seal location proved not to be an issue. Crew did recommended that Siyaj reshape the tubes at certain points to control the flow of water. He also recommended fabricating the outside strips to have slight tension when the tubes are completely filled.
The product was recently released on the market and instantly became popular in the commercial construction industry. The product has already been utilized by a construction company building an addition to Methodist Hospital in Houston.
“The construction company told me that the flow barrier system was far superior to traditional sand bags for temporary flood control,” said Siyaj. “It proved more effective, especially when water was already in the process of rising.”
Siyai said a construction firm in North Houston has also been praising his new product. A project was being developed that would have involved emptying and refilling a lake. However, Siyaj said that because of Flowbarrier, the company was able to create a dam and save the fish and wildlife living in the lake.
“Research and development is crucial to product development,” said Siyaj. “Most small businesses do not have the financial resources to conduct testing of their prototype on that level. SATOP provides small businesses with knowledgeable scientists, from mechanical to space engineers, who can conduct the research and contribute advanced ideas. This has been an invaluable program to me.”
SATOP Executive Director Bob Mitchell said Flowbarrier is a shining example of advanced technology solving problems caused by natural disasters. “If Flowbarrier had been around when Tropical Storm Allison hit Houston a few years ago, we could have possibly saved a lot of homes and businesses from flooding,” said Mitchell. “This technology could change the amount of damage caused by future tropical storms and hurricanes.”