Simulating Bomb Blasts

Professor Gilbert Hegemier

The Explosive Loading Laboratory and Testing Program, funded by the Technical Support Working Group (TSWG), is the first program in the world to develop a hydraulic-based blast simulator to simulate full scale, live explosive events up to 3000 psi-msec without the use of explosive materials or a fireball. Energy deposition, which takes place in time intervals of 2 to 4 ms, is accomplished via an array of ultra-fast, computer controlled hydraulic actuators with a combined hydraulic/high -pressure nitrogen energy source based on blast physics models and codes.

The blast simulator has been validated through comparison with the live explosive field test data, and computational blast physics models and codes are being improved and validated using the blast simulator and field test data. The simulator is being used to generate high fidelity data on the response and failure processes associated with critical infrastructure components subject to explosive loads, to evolve effective blast hardening/protective methodologies for existing and new structures, and to standardize test protocols for product validation.

The simulator performs fully repeatable blast load simulations on structural elements such as columns, beams, girders, and walls; on nonstructural elements such as windows, masonry walls, and curtain walls; and on bridge components such as decks, piers, and towers. Testing results are viewed by still shots taken by three ultra high-speed Phantom cameras, each capable of capturing 5,000-10,000 frames per second!