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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