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Army develops blast-proof wallpaper

Thu 21 May 2015

U.S. army engineers are developing a new blast-proof wallpaper prototype that they claim could help protect soldiers from the impact of an explosion and flying debris.

The lightweight adhesive fabric is lined with ballistic Kevlar fibres embedded in flexible polymer film. Nick Boone, a research mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that the rolls of paper could be easily transported by military troops and used to quickly line the walls in temporary buildings.

Without the wallpaper, a wall that is hit will “rubblize,” said Boone, hurling shards of rock and mortar at the soldiers inside. However when the blast occurs with the wallpaper installed, he explained that the fabric acts as a “catcher’s net,” and is able to contain the flying rubble and prevent debris from injuring soldiers.

“The idea of coating the inside of structures to reduce the danger of [debris] to occupants is not new,” said Justin Bronk, research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute.

“What appears relatively new about this ballistic wallpaper is that it can be quickly and easily applied by non-specialised units at short notice. This provides significant potential tactical advantages,” Bronk continued.

Boone added that army engineers had successfully tested the wallpaper on temporary unreinforced structures and used explosives to blow them up. He said that small blast trials had been carried out near Fort Polk in Louisiana, while larger blast testing had been conducted at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Boone hoped that although the ballistic wallpaper was still undergoing heavy research and development, it would one day be relied upon as a critical safety feature and would “hopefully save lives.”

The prototype made its first public appearance at the Pentagon’s Lab Day exhibition last week, among other military technology advancements such as the U.S. Navy’s Cicada drones.


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