Terrorism threat prompts new building designs
The University of Adelaide has been awarded more than $220,000 to help design buildings that can withstand a terrorist attack from explosive devices.
Dr Chengqing Wu and Professor Deric Oehlers from the University's School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering will lead a national project to safeguard high-risk public buildings against terrorist attack by developing construction guidelines for new, ultra-strong concrete.
The University will partner with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), international company VSL Australia and the State University of New York at Buffalo on the three-year project.
Blast testing at Woomera of the ultra-high performance concrete Ductal has already confirmed it can reduce the effects of blast-induced shocks and explosive munitions. Design guidelines will now be developed to accommodate this new material to help protect buildings against explosive blast loads.
Dr Wu says the ultra-high performance concrete can absorb far more energy than conventional concrete, making it an ideal material for buildings at risk, including embassies, police stations and government buildings.
"With the rising threat of terrorism, protecting structures in Australia and abroad against explosive blasts has become a major concern over the past decade," Dr Wu said.
"This collaborative project will strengthen our defence and national infrastructure engineering capabilities and help to safeguard Australia against terrorist attacks in a cost-effective manner."
VSL Australia has led an international technical team in developing the ultra-high performance concrete, and a pilot project in 2007 involving the University and DSTO confirmed its tolerance to extreme blast loads.
DSTO is contributing specialist expertise and staff who will be directly involved in the blast testing and data acquisition.
The University is also working on new technology to help protect existing structures from explosive blast effects by reinforcing buildings with stabilised aluminium foam to absorb the blast energy.
The Australian Research Council has awarded more than $153,000 to the University for the project, with VSL Australia and DSTO contributing in-kind materials and test support.
New building guidelines are expected to be in use for the ultra-high performance concrete by the end of 2010.
Story by Candy Gibson