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Bomb-Proofing Buildings

Rescue workers after a bomb blast

Rescue workers after a bomb blast in southern Thailand. Three bombs exploded in the business district of the city of Yala, with police reporting that the devices had been placed in a car and a motorcycle. Surapan Boonthanom / Reuters / Picture Media\RTR304WS\

By Chengqing Wu

A new form of reinforced concrete that can absorb the blast of an explosion is being developed for use in buildings that can withstand terrorist attacks.

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The increasing number of terrorist attacks has generated considerable concern throughout the world. Not only do explosive devices used in terrorist attacks result in multiple deaths and casualties, they can also cause the collapse of buildings, bridges and other important infrastructure.

When a bomb is detonated outside a building it releases a huge amount of energy instantaneously. The resulting shock wave in the surrounding air expands rapidly to the front of the building, blowing its exterior walls and columns. The blast pressure inside the building moves floors upwards while the blast pressure on the outside of the building forces the side walls, roof and rear walls inwards.

The direct air-blast effects cause local failure of parts of the building. Flying debris generated from the direct blast causes further damage to the building and injury to its occupants. Local failure may progress to global failure and the collapse of the building.

To enhance the resistance of structures to both local and global failure due to an explosion, there has been a significant increase in both theoretical and experimental research into the behaviour of structural components subjected to blast loading. The major objective is to increase the energy dissipation capabilities of the structural components, with most of the focus on developing new materials to absorb...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.