Protecting buildings from bombs: Australian and Chinese researchers produce blast resistant concrete

By / 16th of May, 2014

UNIVERSITY of Adelaide researchers have developed a new high-compressive, high-tensile, and high-ductile strength concrete, which could protect important structures from terrorist attacks.

The concrete has been through extensive testing in China in collaboration with Tianjin Chengjian University.

With columns of the same size and explosives set at the same distance, the new concrete survives a blast from 50kg of TNT (trinitrotoluene) while conventional concrete columns are destroyed with 10kg of TNT.

Project leader Dr Chengqing Wu from the University’s School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering says the material has at least five times the strength of conventional concrete.

“Our new material has very strong blast resistance. If a suitcase explosive was placed very closet to building columns made from this material, they would survive. It also has the potential to be much cheaper to produce,” he said.

“While many important buildings in cities have concrete barriers to hold back cars and other vehicles that might contain explosives, in crowded downtown areas there may not be space for barriers – and they still will not prevent bombs carried in backpacks and the like, said Dr Wu.

Dr Wu is also Director of the Tianjin Chengjian University – University of Adelaide Joint Research Centre on Distaster Prevention and Mitigation.

Currently the material is made in a laboratory setting and further work is needed to establish how the concrete can be made at a construction site.

The research is funded under the Australian Research Council Discovery Project scheme.

The research team is also investigating the use of aluminium foam as an extra layer on structures to absorb blast energy and, with Monash University, new types of structures with concrete-filled, double-skinned steel tubular columns against blast loads.

Tianjin Chengjian University (Chinese-language)

Tianjin Chengian University information

School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering

Dr Chengqing Wu

Key contacts

Dr Chengqing Wu Senior Lecturer School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering - University of Adelaide
61 8 8313 4834
Robyn Mills Media and Communications Officer University of Adelaide
61 8 8313 6341