The Blast Lab

How much damage can an explosion cause and how can we measure it? Explosives expert Bill Proud is developing techniques for testing how different materials respond to the shock waves caused by a blast. He even has a device that uses donated human body parts to help him to understand the injuries that can be sustained in an explosion. Bill showed me around his ‘blast lab’…

  • The Split-Hopkinson pressure bar allows measurements of high pressure, short time impacts similar to those caused by a bullet
  • The data is used to try to understand how injuries occur in a blast and to help to design protective equipment to prevent injury
  • Air-filled cavities in the human body, such as the ears, the larynx and the lungs are most susceptible to injury in a blast
  • Solid blast refers to the impact of solid objects on the human body during a blast
  • ANUBIS is a machine that simulates the impact of the floor of a vehicle on the passengers inside from something such as a landmine
  • Donated human body parts are used in the machine to record the injuries sustained, which are then verified by a field medic with first-hand experience
  • Detailed measurements of the forces combined with high-speed camera imaging allows the scientists to see exactly how the injuries occur and therefore design ways to prevent them

You can listen to the full interview here.

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