UAB pioneers new, safer structure for tornado protection

Think back to April 27, 2011.

The death. The destruction.

But what if that kind of disaster was a thing of the past?

That's what the UAB Engineering Department is hoping to accomplish.

"It would pretty much protect against the similar types of tornados that would occur in the future or would have stopped some of the damage that took place in April of last year," Professor Uday Vaidya said.

Vaidya, and some of the engineers, recently went to Texas to test a new, lighter composite material against FEMA regulations.

Two-by-fours were thrown 100 mph into the structure, which is equivalent to an F5 tornado.

Vaidya calls the material the next big thing when it comes to storm protection and keeping your family safe.

"Composites are used everywhere from aircrafts to buses and trains," he said. "Completely replacing the metals in many cases."

And soon maybe your home.

Imagine, no more running to a storm shelter or the basement for protection. The new structure is designed to be formed to any shape, including a bathroom or hall closet.

It could be installed during or after your house is built.

"At the same time, some aspects of the material are recycled content," Vaidya said. "So, it could be considered as a green product."

A green product that could save lives.

"Even if we were able to save one life, it's worth the investment and development," he said.

Vaidya says the material will be tested again in the fall and, hopefully, will be available for contractors next spring.