Bullet proof fabric used to build reinforced sand dunes

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A product used by the military to stop bullets, might prevent the sand beach from blowing onto Highway 90.  The company that markets that product is using it to build a reinforced sand dune.

An extremely durable fabric called "fiber web" is the product.   It forms the core of an artificial sand dune which could stop all that sand from blowing off the beach.

"Right now, we're making 15 meter long barriers," said Scott Brown, with the Atlanta-based company Energy by Design.  He's building a 160 foot long, 40 foot wide sand dune just west of Courthouse Road.

Brown got permission from Harrison County and the Army Corps of Engineers to build this demonstration dune.  "Our pilot program is to establish dunes that are three, four feet high. We'll vegetate them with native grasses which will enable the sand to be trapped on the beach, versus Highway 90," he explained, "If we can keep the sand on the beach, and not let it migrate to the highway, then it's a great benefit to the county."

At the heart of this dune building project is a geo-textile product that looks a bit like the house wrap that contractors use for home building.

It is the special, tough fabric that makes this process so much different.  Instead of just piling up sand and then planting some grasses to build a dune, this dune is strengthened with a series of fabric enclosed cores, providing strength and stability.

Brown says the military uses this fabric for the walls of forward-operating bases.  "We can take a thousand feet of wall with all the interior walls and put it in a 20 foot container and ship it overseas," he said.

These dunes certainly don't need to stop bullets, but the fabric cores are designed to help them withstand the strongest of storms.

"Assists in the control of the dune.  It gives it a core, gives it a base. So that the dune doesn't migrate on you. The sand beach authority can maintain the dune in a given spot, because it has a core to work with," said Brown.

He will be showing off his demonstration dune on Wednesday.

That's when county leaders, along with representatives from the DMR and Army Corps are expected to check out this geo-textile design.

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