News | Jan 28, 2020

US Navy invents special liquid-filled liner using ballistic textiles, makes trash can blast resistant

During the annual Boston Marathon in 2013, two homemade bombs detonated near the finish line of the race, killing 3 people and injuring several hundred. U.S. Navy researchers were motivated by the bombing to invent a new blast-resistant trash receptacle.

Aaron Tang/Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Navy experts in explosive ordnance disposal have invented a way to turn normal trash cans into bomb containment devices for emergency use at sporting events and transportation centers.

The new technology from the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Indian Head EOD Technology Division works by retrofitting trash cans with a ballistic liner and a liquid buffer that can absorb blasts from small explosive devices such as pipe bombs or pressure-cooker bombs like the one used in the Boston Marathon bombing.

The team of more than a dozen Navy inventors was issued a U.S. patent for their work on January 21, 2020.

Blast-resistant trash cans are designed to lessen the impact of a bomb inside the receptacle by guiding the blast upwards and containing shrapnel. In the new patent document, the Navy outlines some deficiencies in the commercially available receptacles, which are made of steel and weigh from 200 to 2,000 pounds.

“In their current form, these receptacles can weigh thousands of pounds, cost thousands of dollars each, and provide no capability for use with flash X-ray or many detonation prevention procedures while the threat is inside the receptacle,” according to the Navy patent. “These drawbacks limit the practicality and use of current blast-resistant trash receptacles at special events and/or transportation hubs.”

The Navy invention aims to address these hurdles by creating a maneuverable bag-in-container system that can be used with many already existing trash cans, making it cheaper, lighter and easier to use.

Illustration from the Navy’s U.S. Patent 10,539,404 “Blast Containment System for Trash Cans.”

The device contains two sections, an inner plastic lining surrounded by a liquid mixture of water, antifreeze, and cornstarch, and enclosed by a second, ballistic liner. A ring-shaped boot is positioned at the sealed bottom of the flexible bag, while the rigid container extends from its closed bottom to an open-top adapted to be approximately aligned with the top periphery of the trash can.

The lightweight device could be employed by municipal emergency services during marathons, sporting events, or for constant use at busy intersections, bus stations, or gathering points.

With the patent issues, the technology is now available via license agreement to qualified companies for commercialization.

Brian Metzger, senior technology manager at TechLink and the point of contact for businesses interested in reviewing the technology, called the invention a “game-changer” for urban security, noting that the Navy’s blast-resistant trash receptacle “doesn’t require a fork-lift to install.”

“These researchers pooled their knowledge and invented a problem-solving product that’s easy to use and cost-effective for customers,” Metzger said. “Now we need a company to license and commercialize it.”


For more information on this business opportunity contact Dr. Brian Metzger at brian.metzger@montana.edu.