Magazine article National Defense

Engineers Use Space Age Coating to Protect Forces. (Security Beat)

Magazine article National Defense

Engineers Use Space Age Coating to Protect Forces. (Security Beat)

Article excerpt

In response to global terrorist threats to U.S. forces, engineers from the materials and manufacturing directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory have developed a method for providing crucial protection: a polyurethane, elastomer coating suitable to strengthen concrete block walls, reinforced concrete and lightweight, manufactured structures, such as trailers.

The Defense Department has faced the threat of terrorist bombings for a long tim. During the last 15 years, 80 percent of the department's total casualties have resulted from terrorist activity, said Al Nease, chief of the force protection branch at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

"In the past, Air Force engineers thought hardened structures were the best protection against the damaging and deadly effects of an explosion," said Nease.

"Historically, the mindset of civil engineers has been to make buildings stronger so they can withstand a blast," said Jon Porter, branch senior research engineer. However, "all that's changing today," he said.

Engineers have recently developed methods to retrofit existing, conventionally-built structures with spray-on, elastomeric coatings to provide protection from explosions, Porter explained. …

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