Advanced Blast Protection Systems (ABPS) selected Blastech/University of Sheffield to test the initial prototypes of Advanced Impulse Reduction (AIR) technology at their experimental blast and impact laboratory located at Harpur Hill, Buxton, UK.
APBS was formed late last year around a groundbreaking multi-layer composite material technology, AIR, which had been demonstrated through internal testing to reduce impulse, mitigating the effects of high explosives. Solutions like AIR that didn’t rely solely on mass or increased standoff to achieve blast mitigation had been sought in the industry for years, so the ABPS science and technology team knew that achieving it for the first time was an extraordinary claim that would represent a step change in blast protection. But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so ABPS approached Blastech; a preeminent team in blast measurement, diagnosis and experimental design to examine the claims. The world-renowned UK team at Blastech/University of Sheffield, led by Prof. Andy Tyas, the Royal Academy of Engineering and DSTL research chair in Blast Protection Engineering, and Dr. Jim Warren, were set the problem of proving AIR technology doesn’t work!
The Blastech team devised a stripped down experiment to show only the real structural effects of the AIR technology itself. A horizontal rigid rig was constructed that eliminated extraneous movements and direct load measurement took place at each corner to measure global impulse. Peak deflection was measured using a crushable metal honeycomb material. A spherical 1kg PE-4 explosive charge was suspended directly above the centre of the target panel and detonated at various scaled distances. All shots were repeated three times and each was base-line tested against the same mass of commercial armour steel for comparison.
Extreme care was taken to shield the load measurements from thermal loading, direct blast loading and radio frequencies in order to ensure unprecedented levels of signal fidelity. These signals were integrated to give peak impulse values that could be plotted and compared with the commercial armour steel baseline.
A maximum reduction of 32% was observed, with a minimum of around 10% achieved at longer standoffs. To the initial surprise of the Blastech team, these unprecedented results bore out the ABPS science & technology team’s internal findings that AIR reduces blast loads and impulse. Extraordinary proof of an extraordinary claim.
Dr. Jim Warren put it this way, “In the last 20 years I’ve been involved in the research, development and assessment of protective systems. The reduction of blast impulse loading on a structure by material means has been a goal for many, though until now I’ve never seen a successful technology. Our tests in the near field show that ABPS AIR technology achieves this goal for the first time.”
This prototype work demonstrates not only the validity of ABPS’s AIR technology, but also the power of the ABPS “science first” approach; partnering with world leading institutions to meet its aims, leading to high product confidence internally…and externally.