The Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s SIMLab (Structural Impact Laboratory) is developing simple aluminium structures to protect against impacts and explosions.

Tank steel and armoured concrete provide good protection, but can be heavy and difficult to move. SIMLab claims its aluminium alternative is light, cheap and flexible, and can be used to protect fences, buildings, ammunition dumps and containers.

The structure is made from a double-walled panel that can be filled with a suitable heavy substance found on site, such as dirt, sand, gravel or pebbles. The panels are pieced together from hollow aluminium shapes which slot together. They can be filled from the top with ballast, which can be drained out of the bottom when the panel needs to be unmounted and moved to another area. Two people can completely secure a container in this manner in the course of a morning.

The system was tested in a full-scale explosion, and the panelled container received just minor damage from an explosion that was equivalent to four tonnes of TNT detonated from 120 metres away.

The project was funded by the Norwegian Defence Estates Agency (NDEA), which is responsible for the Norwegian camps and compounds that are involved in international operations for military and civilian use.

SIMLab is now working on an aluminium foam to use in lightweight armoured vehicle panels to absorb the energy from an exploding landmine.