Just recently, EPSRC announced that it has developed a new generation of bomb blast curtains, much better than anything that currently exists. By collaborating with Exeter University, three partners and Auxetix Ltd. EPSRC has managed to utilize new fabric technology to develop blast-blast-curtains that are thinner than usual but that shall expand the moment they are bent or dealt with an explosive force. This curtain is new gen and should become commercially viable within a few years from today.
This curtain is designed to stay intact and prevent debris from an explosion like flying glass and shrapnel shards from getting through windows. Quite often life threatening injuries arise out of debris flying around at high speeds in an explosion.
This curtain should find sufficient demand in Government buildings and high priority locations. They are designed to be affixed onto windows from the inside and should protect all inhabitants inside from explosions as well as severe weather conditions like hurricanes and typhoons.
The current generation of bomb-blast curtain is actually made from a thick net like fiber and it is used in tandem with a shatterproof film coated directly onto the window. This prevents shards of glasses from tearing through the curtain. However, the EPSRC developed curtain should remove the need for using shatterproof coating by making the curtain fibers individually more woven and resistant to external forces.
The kind of fabric used in the curtain holds the key to its superb performance. There are two fibers used, one is denser and stiffer than the other. This stiffer fiber forms the outer coating that is wound across a core made from a stretchy fiber. When force is experienced by the outer fiber, it tends to straighten out causing the inside fiber to increase in diameter. This material is scientifically termed auxetic or something that expands upon exertion of force. Auxetic property is greatly affected by the diameter of both fibers, coiling angle of the stiffer fiber upon the stretchy core and the stiffness. Through manipulation of all these three factors, one can create varying grades of this new generation curtain. In fact, EPSRC researchers are desperately trying to figure out how each grade shall perform under tests.
One more specialty of this new gen curtain is that it allows small pores to develop upon stretching. While the diameter of each pore is too small to allow debris space inside, they are just large enough to dissipate the force of a shockwave. Hence, the curtain is more adept at staying in tact even in typhoon wind conditions or large-scale explosions.
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.
These bomb blast curtains can also find use elsewhere like in the making of auxetic bandages, dental floss and in civil engineering. Dental floss that immediately expands after filling for more effective cleaning between teeth, bandages that swell to open pores allowing antibiotics to enter and reinforcing soil against flood and storms are its many possible applications.