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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Improved blast-proof windows

One of the major causes of death and injury after hurricanes or bomb attacks is the resultant flying shards of glass. A team of engineers from the University of Missouri and from the University of Sydney, Australia has just developed a new type of blast-resistant glass. One of the major benefits of the new version is that, unlike current blast-proof glass, it will fit in standard window frames.

Currently, blast-proof windows are made of layers of polymers and are at least an inch thick. This means that they cannot be swapped into standard window frames. The new type of glass is actually a sandwich of various components. On the outside are two thin sheets of regular glass. Between those sheets are long glass fibers, woven together and soaked in liquid plastic. The three components are bonded together with clear adhesive. The resultant glass panes are expected to cost about the same as standard blast-proof panes. However, the new panes are only one quarter inch thick, easily thin enough to fit within standard window frames.

Thus far, small prototypes of the new glass panes have tested well. The engineers hope to bring full sized windows to market within the next three or four years.

Caption: An engineer from the University of Missouri studies the glass pane after a test explosion.

Credit: DHS S&T