none

RESEARCHERS DEVELOP PLASMA ‘FORCE FIELD’ TO PROTECT MILITARY VEHICLES AGAINST BLASTS

11-04-2015
by 
in 

Aerospace and defence giant Boeing has been awarded a patent to develop a force field-like system that could protect military vehicles from shockwaves following explosions from missiles or improvised explosive devices. 

The new technology has the potential to create a defence system, which can protect valuable equipment from incoming shockwaves.

Boeing’s proposed system involves using a combination of lasers, electricity and microwaves to rapidly heat up the air between the vehicle and a blast.

This heat creates a plasma shield that's denser than the surrounding air and able to deflect or absorb the energy from the incoming shockwave.    

Unlike the impenetrable force fields of science fiction movies, the system is not designed to prevent direct impacts or shrapnel, reports Science Alert. 

Instead, Boeing’s system is designed to protect a target - which could be a vehicle carrying troops, or a building such as a command centre or a hospital - from the after-effects of nearby explosions.

The system, which would likely be mounted on a military vehicle, or some other target, would have sensors that can detect the velocity and shape of an incoming threat.

The system would also be able to determine the size and force of the resulting explosion. 

Its sensors and computers would be able to calculate the time it would take the shock wave from an explosion to reach the target, and from what direction.

This is important, as the generated force field would only protect a small region of the target, rather than enveloping the entire thing. 

Once it has determined the timing of the shock wave, the system’s objective is to somehow heat the air around the target, generating what Boeing terms a  “transient medium” that intercepts the shock wave and reduces the energy density. 

As Evan Ackerman from IEEE Spectrum explains: "The general concept is to use an electromagnetic arc to create this intermediate medium in mid-air on very short notice by using a stupendous amount of energy to heat the air into a plasma.“

The plasma, which is much hotter than the surrounding air, also has a different density and composition. 

Boeing believes this plasma field is enough to divert, reflect or absorb the energy passing through.  

In its application, Boeing outlines several different embodiments of the systems, with different methods for detecting threats, and for rapidly creating the plasma field. 

One option uses converging lasers or microwave beams to generate a spherical region of plasma.

Alternatively, the force field could be generated by firing lasers that induce plasma channels in the air, which provide a path for an electric discharge to create the plasma shield.

These same pathways could be created by launching metal pellets that leave conductive trails as they fly. 

The company is now working on the first prototype.

Source: IEEE Spectrum

Related news & editorials

  1. 29.07.2021
    29.07.2021
    by      In
    Epson and subsidiary Epson X Investment Corporation are together investing in SiLC Technologies, a start-up developing on-chip LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) modules to measure distance to surrounding objects and their speed.
    The investment is occurring via the EP-GB Investment Limited... Read More
  2. 27.07.2021
    27.07.2021
    by      In
    The past weekend saw the launch of a new campaign from Bapcor, Asia Pacific’s leading provider of vehicle parts, accessories, equipment and service. The campaign, called The unseen parts of every Australian journey, focuses on the role the firm plays in the lives of ordinary Australians.
    Coinciding... Read More
  3. 27.07.2021
    27.07.2021
    by      In
    Entries are closing soon for the Premier’s Sustainability Awards 2021, Victoria’s annual sustainability awards program.
    With less than a week to apply, the awards recognise and celebrate individuals, organisations and communities that are contributing to Victoria’s long term sustainability efforts... Read More
  4. 27.07.2021
    27.07.2021
    by      In
    Whereas the world’s first industrial robot was brought to life in 1962, it wasn’t until 2008 that the first collaborative robot (cobot) made its way onto the scene. As the name suggests, a cobot is a robot that is intended for direct human-robot interaction within a shared space. These robots are... Read More
Products
Suppliers