Dukane Precast recently wheeled out their tornado cannon. It’s capable of launching projectiles at 60 to 135 miles per hour – the same speeds tornados hurl debris.
The Naperville-based company uses it to demonstrate how different building materials would hold up in severe winds. At their most recent demonstration, they compared wood and brick with precast concrete.
The cannon fired two-by-fours at tornado force speeds. They sailed through the wood and brick walls like they weren’t even there – an unnerving sight to those whose home is made from these standard materials. But the precast concrete stopped the projectile dead in its tracks.
“The last test we did was an insulated precast panel, which consists of a sandwich of concrete, foam insulation, and concrete,” said Brian Bock, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at Dukane Precast.
While very few homes are made of precast concrete, many recent developments in Naperville are.
“We started to see greater use of precast concrete on many commercial buildings in Naperville. With the thin brick that they have it makes it a very attractive building, and it’s economical and sustainable,” said Bill Novack, Director of Transportation, Enginnering, and Design with the City of Naperville.
Notable developments include the Fort Hill Activity Center, much of the Water Street District, and North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall, New Residence Hall, and Residence Hall/Recreation Center.
“It’s rated as an EF5 tornado shelter,” said Bock, referencing the Res/Rec Center. “The combination of having a recreation facility with a student dormitory in a fire safe, wind safe, and energy efficient sustainable structure has garnered national accolades, it’s a building we’re very proud of.”
While it’s good that more buildings in town are being built with these tornado safe materials, if your home isn’t, remember the safest course of action during a tornado is to move to an interior room without windows in the lowest floor in your house.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.