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UH profs test materials for hurricane resistance

Two University of Hawaii professors are using a pneumatic cannon and other apparatus to test materials used in building exterior walls for their resistance to hurricanes.

Structural engineering Profs. Ian Robertson and H. Ronald Riggs have built a facility inside the Hawaii State Civil Defense’s headquarters in Diamond Head to conduct the tests.

The cannon can fire 9-foot-long wood studs at up to 80 mph, and another device can apply internal and external pressure to wall systems that simulates hurricane forces.

One of the first uses of the facility is to evaluate stronger windows and materials used in so-called safe rooms, where occupants can seek shelter during hurricanes.

Future building codes may require such rooms.

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