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Small Blast-proof glass panel after test  (Source: DHS S&T)
Inventin may lood to better looking Popemobile

High profile leaders and government buildings all around the world can be targets of terrorist attacks at any given moment. Many of these officials and buildings are protected with defenses that are designed to protect the people inside buildings and vehicles. One of the more common types of protection is glass that is both bullet and bomb resistant.

According to the Pentagon, glass shards are one of the leading causes of death in many bombing attacks. The problem with the blast-resistant glass on the market today is that the material is very thick and can’t fit into the windowpanes in existing buildings. The glass is said to be about as thick as a 300-page novel.

A team of engineers from the University of Missouri and the University of Sydney in Australia has developed a new type of blast-resistant glass that is much thinner than the current glass, but has the same blast-resistant properties as the thick stuff. The new glass is about a quarter-inch thick and is made from a plastic composite with an inert layer of polymer reinforced with glass fibers. The team testing the glass has already exposed a small test panel to an explosion.

Sanjeev Khanna, the project's principal investigator and an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Missouri said, "The results were fantastic. While the discharge left the pane cracked, the front surface remained completely intact."

The new glass gets its strength from the use of long glass fibers in a woven cloth that is soaked in liquid plastic and then bonded with adhesive. The resulting glass is very strong, thin, and clear. The current thick blast-resistant glass has a green tinge.

The new glass would also fit existing windowpanes.

"Designing an affordable, easy-to-install blast-resistant window could encourage widespread use in civilian structures, thereby protecting the lives of occupants against multiple threats and hazards," notes John Fortune, manager of the project for the Infrastructure and Geophysical Division at S&T.

Tests with larger explosions and larger glass sheets are planned.

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RE: Other uses?
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 12/10/2010 9:58:35 AM , Rating: 2
Those towers were uniquely designed to fail in a way that no other building is. Ironic.

It was not the perimeter structure that failed on the twin towers, it was the core structure, which was held to the perimeter through floor joists on each floor (which eventually failed), and through roof trusses, which were the last thing to fail. The perimeter structure held up very well. A more durable glass like this would have popped out of the frames and gone sailing off throughout downtown like giant ninja stars. Not pretty.

Anyway, if the planes had hit a conventional sky scraper, it would not have failed in the same way since they use a more coherent internal structure.

These panes would protect the curtain wall somewhat, but if frames failed first, the panes become flying guillotines within the building structure. Lovely.

RE: Other uses?
By FITCamaro on 12/10/2010 12:01:16 PM , Rating: 3
I really doubt even bullet proof glass would stand up to several hundred tons going a few hundred miles an hour hitting it.

Buildings aren't designed to get hit by planes and never will be. Well except for nuclear power plants.

RE: Other uses?
By Smartless on 12/10/2010 2:02:23 PM , Rating: 5
Actually I'm pretty sure it WAS designed to withstand a plane hit. But they were thinking at the very largest a 737. The tower actually did hold until the jet fuel melted the fireproofing off the internal structure. Not everything can be designed like a nuclear power plant. I know, not your point, but as an engineer, yeah we'd love to build things to withstand atomic bombs and a hundred years of the environment but truth is its both ugly and expensive.

As for thinner ballistic glass, using it requires a lot of thought. Fire departments don't like it but security firms do. The armed forces are really going to love this but I'm sure the best use would be transporting whales in a Klingon Bird-of-Prey.

RE: Other uses?
By Solandri on 12/10/2010 4:39:34 PM , Rating: 2
According to the architect, they were designed to withstand the impact of a 707, the largest plane in service at the time the WTC was designed. Overdesign meant they were able to survive the impact of a considerably larger 767 at a much higher velocity than is typical at those altitudes.

That they collapsed due to the fire is completely independent of their impact resistance. Frankly, I was amazed that the second tower managed to stay standing as long as it did. After the second plane hit, you could clearly see half of the structural support members on one face were completely severed. But the thing kept standing.

BTW, a google search turned up this eerie exchange from 2000:

RE: Other uses?
By lyeoh on 12/10/2010 2:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
That's why flying cars as popularly envisioned are a stupid idea (as long as buildings aren't designed to get hit by them).

Once you have thousands of flying cars in the city the odds of a crash go up significantly. And the average kinetic energy involved goes up.

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