Enhancing the blast performance of critical infrastructure

Volume 17, Number 3, September 2012

Developing innovative high performance composite systems to protect critical concrete infrastructure against extreme shocks is the goal of a research project now underway at the National Research Council.

NRC, in collaboration with industry and infrastructure owners (see box), is conducting blast tests, simulating the effects of explosives and impacts from heavy vehicles on highway bridges, tunnels, data centers, power generation facilities and embassy buildings.

The research objective is to develop protection systems that could provide high levels of performance in terms of shock absorption, load distribution, concrete confinement, and overall structural capacity. By enhancing the structural robustness of critical infrastructure, it is hoped that the risk of failure will be reduced.

This research has focused on the use of unique testing systems to assess the performance of concrete elements protected by three layers of thermoset and thermoplastic fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP). These composite materials provide high shear, flexural and compressive strengths, effective shock absorption, and adequate post-failure resistance for the concrete elements.

Initial results demonstrate significant enhancement of key structural properties of concrete structures protected by this newly-developed, high-performance composite technology (Figure 1).

For more information

NRC Construction is seeking partners for this and other projects relating to infrastructure security and safety. For further information, contact Husham Almansour at husham.almansour@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca or 613-993-0129.

Figure 1: Deformation and damage of unprotected (left) and composite-protected concrete columns (right) under simulated blast load

Project Partners

  • NRC
  • BASF
  • Dept. of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • Dept. of National Defence
  • RCMP
  • Transport Canada
  • University of Ottawa