Texas Tech University

Debris Impact Facility

About the Debris Impact Facility (DIF)

The Debris Impact Facility is an A2LA accredited ISO/IEC 17025-2005 test laboratory. DIF offers accredited storm shelter, safe room, commercial and residential door, window, and other components testing in accordance with FEMA 320, FEMA 361 and ICC-500, including structural performance of exterior doors, windows, curtain walls, and skylights by Uniform Static Air pressure testing, determining the ability of elements of the building envelope to remain unbreached during severe windstorm event, including hurricanes or tornadoes.
The Debris Impact Facility is intended to promote public safety and welfare and helps prevent deaths and lower property losses incurred due to extreme weather events and their effects. DIF performs debris impact tests 
on storm shelters, shelter components and building materials in order to develop the safest, most impact-resistant materials to better protect individuals.




The heart of the Debris Impact Facility is a pneumatic cannon capable of producing simulated wind speeds over 250 mph. The cannon can launch different types of simulated wind-born debris in a controlled environment to provide valuable impact resistance data.


The cannon plays an important role in researching effective tornado shelters for use in homes and other structures. The cannon is used to develop standards for safe above ground shelters, and continues to be in demand for testing new shelter materials and constructions.
The NWI has also been selected for Popular Science’s “Most Awesome College Labs 2013" and as one of "PopSci's Most Awesome College Labs 2011".
Watch a video demonstrating the debris impact cannon in action.This video is an impressive, slow-motion real life impact of a sample debris cannon missile.






Pressure and Impact Test Performance of Above-Ground Non-Complying Tornado Shelter Doors
Standard Test Method for Structural Performance of Exterior Doors, Windows, Curtain Walls, and Skylights by Uniform Static Air Pressure Difference using Air Bladders
Analysis of the Above-ground Shelter Door Failure April 27, 2014 Tornado, Mayflower, Arkansas
FEMA P-320 - Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business
FEMA P-361 - Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms, Third Edition (2015)
ICC 500-2014: ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters

Construction Materials Threshold Testing Report

Final NIST Report


National Storm Shelter Association






Tested Shelters, Shelter Doors & Components


For Information on Debris Impact Testing:
For information on testing and the testing schedule, please contact:

Tammy Pitzer, DIF Office Manager at (806) 834-8604 or email: tammy.pitzer@ttu.edu
Larry Tanner, DIF Manager at (806) 834-2320 or email: larry.tanner@ttu.edu


National Wind Institute