Revolutionary flood barrier wins BBC award

A revolutionary flood barrier has won the BBC Tomorrow’s World Award for Innovation in Safety and Environment. Known as the Rapid Emergency Dam (RED), the new invention could make sandbags a thing of the past.

Made by the Hampshire based company, Hydroscience, the RED system looks like nothing more than a low wall of fabric. As it fills with flood water the pressure makes the barrier rigid, with the weight of the water providing a seal against the ground. The system can be flat-packed and stored on a reel, making it easily stowed and readily transportable, as well as allowing rapid deployment in the face of an imminent flood.

“Globally, we’ve had interest from China, Canada, and all the Benelux countries, and all over the UK – anywhere where there’s been flooding,” Nick Ward, one of the two inventors of the barriers told edie . “We’ve not actually had one up in a real flood, but we’ve done lots of testing with the Environment Agency.”

In a test on the Tomorrow’s World programme, the RED system was compared with a sandbag wall constructed by eight Royal Engineers. It took the soldiers two hours to build a six metre long wall which leaked badly, in contrast to the 20 minutes it took to plug the same gap with the RED system, which barely leaked.

Other uses of Hydroscience’s RED system include a temporary reservoir for chemicals or as a fish holding tank, and as a dry safe haven for the protection of homes, livestock and farmland in flood-prone areas.

The ceremony from the programme’s live event at Earls Court honoured the best British innovations shown on the programme this year.

Other winners included an early warning cancer test devised by Cambridge University and the Cancer Research Campaign, flat transparent stereo speakers, which could lead to computer screens and television monitors producing their own sound, a James Bond style wrist watch which can receive live video pictures, and longer lasting traffic lights.

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