Summer is hitting full swing, but research continues at Iowa State on a new type of power pole that could prevent some of the major problems of winter storms. I.S.U. professor, Jon Rouse, is working on a design that will try and keep large metal power poles from pulling each other over like dominoes once they get covered in heavy ice.

Rouse says they are designing in a weak spot in the pole with a hinge. The hinge would allow the pole to handle the heavy pull when ice builds up and the wind starts to blow. He says the prototype would deflect a heavy load that might cause power poles that are in use to collapse, and by doing that it would share the heavy load with poles down the line.

Rouse says the pole could easily be repaired after deflecting the load. Rouse, is an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, and says the idea for the pole came out of research he was doing on making bridge pier columns to resist earthquakes. While the idea is to prevent the cost of replacing hundreds of poles, he says the design could save money in the initial building costs too.

Rouse says the typical approach used now to prevent cascading collapses it to build dead end structures every five to 10 miles that’re designed to limit the amount of poles that fall. He says the new design could stop the cascading sooner and you wouldn’t need as many dead end structures. Rouse and fellow designers want to increase the size of their prototype and do more testing. They hope to eventually get a patent on the new pole.