Blast pressure spike gauge

Simple approach to measure the destructive force of a bomb

Military Technology

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The U.S. Navy has invented a novel tool for measuring blasts. The technology may have applications beyond its original intent and it is available for license by companies that would make, use, or sell it.

Photo courtesy of Elgin Air Force Base

When testing explosives or warheads it is necessary to collect data regarding the characteristics of the resultant blast. In particular, blast pressure data are needed to determine the magnitude of the blast and the blast range for a warhead. For example, blast pressure data are needed to determine whether a warhead meets its operational lethality requirements. In addition, blast pressure data are needed to ensure accurate calculations of warhead and delivery vehicle safe separation requirements.

Existing blast pressure gauges require electrical power and must be connected to a recording device via an electronic circuit. These gauges, with their electrical wiring and data transmission lines, are time-consuming to set up. In addition, electrical power is not readily available in some test locations to operate the gauges and the recording devices. And finally, when the warhead is tested in an enclosed volume such as a room or a cave, reflected blast pressure can invalidate the data recorded.

Navy researcher Rex Randolph has developed a spike gauge to measure blast pressure. The gauges are solid objects placed on the ground with a flat plate facing towards the impact area. The gauges are secured to the ground with a pinion. Upon a warhead impact and blast, the gauges tilt from their upright position based on the amount of blast pressure impacting the plate. Calculations are made based on the amount of tilt, size, shape of the gauge, and the makeup of the soil to determine the amount of pressure received. Gauges can be randomly placed throughout an expected impact area to gain a broader understanding of the blast dynamics. Several gauge geometries and indicators are included in the patent.

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