In tests this year, a defense agency will explore uses of fiber-reinforced plastics to protect people and buildings from terrorist bombs.
``We are conducting research to mitigate the effects of bomb blasts,'' Doug Sunshine said in a telephone interview from his Alexandria, Va., office. ``Reinforced plastics show promise.''
Sunshine is blast-mitigation program manager with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
Last year, the agency built a test structure at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Now, it will deliberately damage parts of the four-story building, adapt seismic retrofit techniques and retest the structure's integrity against the blasts of 1,000- to 5,000-pound bombs.
Structural tests will start in June, and a wall test will occur in September or October. Sunshine said the goal is to develop design recommendations.
Some joint testing with Israel over several years had mixed success, Sunshine said. This year's more comprehensive look will focus on carbon-fiber reinforcements in column wraps, floors and walls.
Bombings at the Khobar Tower housing complex in Saudi Arabia in 1996 and the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma in 1995 spurred the program.
An ad hoc corporate Coalition for Blast Mitigation Technology backs the program.
``These tests hopefully will continue through year 2000,'' Tom Goldberg said in a telephone interview. Goldberg is a principal with GHL Inc., a Washington-based government relations and marketing firm, and an executive representative for the coalition.