Jerry C. Wong

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Ever J Barbero

Committee Co-Chair

Eduardo M Sosa

Committee Member

Xingbo Liu

Committee Member

Victor H Mucino

Committee Member

Jacky C Prucz


Safety of transportation tunnels is a top priority among transportation agencies and public administrators and a very important aspect in the daily operation of a tunnel system. However, it is always a challenge to create and integrate protection systems in existing tunnels to prevent or at least mitigate the occurrence of hazardous events such as spread of smoke or noxious fumes, flooding, among others. Typically there two ways for preventing or mitigating the occurrence of hazardous events: one is the implementation of permanent solutions and, the second one, is the use of temporary solutions. Permanent solutions usually have relatively high sealing efficiency due to their solid and rigid sealing mechanisms such as bulkheads and floodgates. However, they can be extremely expensive and sometimes difficult to build or install due to physical, economical or operational constraints. On the other hand, temporary solutions, which can be relatively low cost and easy to install, offer a temporary countermeasure while permanent repairs are implemented. The development of flexible structures, such as inflatable plugs for temporary solutions is becoming a viable alternative for protection of transportation tunnels and other similar critical civil infrastructure.;The Resilient Tunnel System (RTS) is a passive tunnel protection system developed at West Virginia University (WVU). This system is intended to prevent or minimize the damage induced by hazardous events by creating a compartment to contain the threat. The Resilient Tunnel System implements inflatable structures at specific locations of the tunnel to seal up the tunnel and create a compartment to isolate the compromised region. WVU has conducted several validation tests on full scale inflatable structures designed to mitigate flooding in an actual rail transportation tunnel and in specially built testing facilities. However, testing at full scale either in an actual tunnel or in specially built testing facilities, is a very complex and resource demanding task. It can take several iterations to achieve desired results which cannot be accurately predicted in advance. Therefore, the development of numerical models using Finite Element Analysis becomes imperative in order to: first, reproduce experimental work done at WVU using different prototypes at different scales; and then use the calibrated models as predicting tool that can anticipate the outcome of experiments and eventually reduce its number due to the intrinsic complexity and cost.;This dissertation aims to present the results of the development of Finite Element Models of confined inflatable structures designed to withstand flooding pressures. Models of different prototypes were created and analyzed in order to reproduce experimental results. Numerical results show that the adjusted models can reproduce experimental results, ranging from deployment, full pressurization and induced failure, with a great degree of accuracy providing a reliable predicting tool for evaluation of alternative configurations and parametric studies.