Even if an armored military vehicle isn't destroyed when a land mine detonates underneath it, its occupants can still receive traumatic brain injuries. Scientists at the University of Maryland are trying to keep that from happening, with a new shock-absorbing system that could also have applications in civilian products.
When an explosion takes place underneath an armored vehicle, the force of the blast causes the vehicle's body to suddenly accelerate upwards. The resulting G-force can be simply too much for the brain, even in cases where other vital organs aren't affected.
"Intense acceleration can destroy synapses, damage nerve fibers, stimulate neuroinflammation, and damage the brain's blood vessels," says Dr. Gary Fiskum, who led the research along with Dr. William Fourney.
With that in mind, the scientists developed a shock-absorbing system consisting of polyurea-coated tubes and other structures, which could be installed between the hull and floorboards of military vehicles. Polyurea is an elastomer that compresses under force, then rebounds after compression.
Based on small-scale lab tests (such as that seen in the video below), it is believed that the system could reduce the blast acceleration experienced by vehicle occupants by up to 80 percent. Plans now call for larger-scale tests to be conducted.
Ultimately, it is hoped that the technology could also help civilians avoid brain injuries, by being applied to items such as sports helmets or vehicle bumpers.
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