For those of us that rely on electronic technology, which includes the staggering majority of people in developed nations, there are few scarier weapons than an EMP. If all electronics suddenly failed, we would see a societal breakdown of massive proportions. Now, we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief, as two engineers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) have developed a conductive concrete that can shield against pulses of electromagnetic energy.
Likely, you could look around the room you’re in or across the street you’re walking down and find a multitude of things vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse. TVs, smartphones, hybrid cars, data centers, and traffic lights are all good examples. If an EMP was triggered by a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere near a major metropolitan area it could cause an enormous catastrophe as critical infrastructure would be rendered useless.
Right now, defense against EMPs is relegated to the most important government facilities and comic books. Two new heroes emerge, UNL engineers Christopher Tuan and Lim Nguyen.
“Nguyen says that the concrete provides what is called a multi-threat structure, able to defend against explosive and electromagnetic attacks.”
Never Fear, Conductive Concrete is here!
Originally designed to help eliminate snow and ice from roadway surfaces, the pair found that the conductive concrete they designed has an unintended ability: mitigation of electromagnetic energy. This energy travels in waves spanning from radio waves to gamma rays. When it comes in contact with the conductive concrete, electromagnetic energy is absorbed and reflected back. This makes the shield more effective than conventional EMP defenses.
What’s better, is the new concrete can be applied as Shotcrete, a spray-on application technique. This allows existing structures to be coated with the conductive concrete, immediately providing electromagnetic energy defense.
EMP defense today comes in the form of metal structures that enclose systems in need of protection. The metal sheeting is expensive and limited when attempting to shield large structures.
Conductive Concrete Already Commercially Viable
UNL has signed an agreement to license the technology to American Business Continuity Group LLC (ABC Group), a developer of disaster-resistant structures. It was the ABC Group’s part in collaboration with the UNL developers to implement the conductive concrete via Shotcrete.
The ABC Group built a prototype structure in Lakeland, Florida which exceeded military shielding needs. Nguyen says that the concrete provides what is called a multi-threat structure, able to defend against explosive and electromagnetic attacks.
The UNL’s exciting product is already useful for de-icing and heating surfaces as well as anti-static flooring. Because of its myriad of practical applications, NUtech Ventures is helping the UNL engineers apply for patents and navigate licensing agreements.