In an experimental project that could just see light of day, the EPSRC or Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is trying to develop a new kind of bomb blast curtains, which should not just be thinner but also more protective than current generation. This new curtain is designed to grow thicker when it gets stretched by explosive forces hence preventing shards or glasses from piercing through it. Auxetix and three other partners have engaged with EPSRC and Exeter University to develop this product commercially.
Such technologically superior nano-curtains are capable of preventing debris from entering inside a window by staying intact. They are so capable that they can prevent glass shards from causing life-threatening injuries to residents inside a room either due to an explosion or otherwise.
The curtain should be handy in potential terrorist targets such as Government assets, buildings, and commercial places with high profile nature. They are directly attached to the windows from the inside and can even prevent hurricanes and typhoons from rupturing the windows.
The present generation of blast-proof curtains is made using high density net like fibers together with a shatter resistant film directly applied on the windows. Together, they manage to block out most of the force from blasts but do allow few shards to get inside. EPSRC new generation curtain should totally remove the need for any kind of shatterproof film because they will use fibers strong enough for blasts.
The new gen curtain uses two different kinds of fiber to provide extra strength and durability. One fiber is stretchy and it is used as the core over which the other fiber is coiled around. This latter fiber is stiffer and tends to straighten when a force is tangentially or normally exerted on it. The force experienced by the outer fiber causes the inner one to expand or bulge sideways providing protection from blasts. Such material is called auxetic because of this process. The Auxetic condition is determined based on the stiffness of the outer fiber, the angle of wrapping around the core and the diameter of both fibers. Through a series of fine alteration of each of these properties, researchers at EPSRC are figuring out various grades of blast-curtains suitable to individual situations.
Additional feature of this new age curtain is its ability to stay whole in severe blasts. The fabric shows a peculiar property of opening up tiny pores upon force that are just small enough to dissipate shockwaves but not large enough to provide entry to debris. They are in fact, quite capable of handling a hurricane without rupturing.
Measuring in at just around 1 to 2mm thick these blast-proof shields are transparent enough to allow natural light through and strong enough to prevent car bomb explosions from causing any harm. Testing has already begun in many Government facilities with certification procedures in full swing. Expect them to enter the market any time soon within five years.
Bomb blast curtains may also get accepted into other areas such as civil engineering, dentistry, and auxetic bandages. The reinforcement of soil using auxetic material shall prevent soil erosion, dental floss from this material will clean teeth better, and bandages containing antibiotics can be used for better healing.