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Mitigation of Fuel Tank Explosions and Fires from IED Blasts


OBJECTIVE: To research, understand, and develop strategies for mitigating fuel tank explosions from improvised explosive device (IED) blasts for Marine Corps vehicle applications. DESCRIPTION: With the increased threat of IEDs during combat operations it is imperative to create a solution to decrease the severity of IED blasts on vehicles, particularly blasts impacting the fuel tank. When combat vehicles encounter these IEDs during combat operations fuel tank explosions can occur creating serious health threats on the troops as well as putting the troops in an unfavorable combat situation. Understanding the thermodynamics and combustion process of fuel vapors in fuel tanks can lead to the development of materials that can be used to mitigate secondary explosions. Research on fuel vapor interaction with IEDs and potential transition to explosion would prevent numerous casualties and provide a safer operating vehicle. Research and understanding should be conducted to provide reliable explosion prevention, crash resistance in fuel tanks, emissions reduction, liquid stabilization, electrostatic discharge without causing significant fuel volume loss or increased maintenance, and to understand other properties of fuel under high temperature environments. Thermal fatigue, mechanical fatigue, exposure to a corrosive environment and safety to the warfighter should be considered when conducting research. Modeling and simulation are encouraged to guide the design in developing a prototype material for the Marine Corps combat vehicles. A prototype material should be able to be applied across all USMC vehicle platforms, but particularly be compatible with the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) and Logistics Vehicle System Replacement (LVSR). A material that could also be compatible with military air and sea vehicles would be an advantage. The Navy will only fund proposals that are innovative, address R & D, and involve technical risk. PHASE I: Provide an initial development effort that demonstrates scientific and technical understanding of the thermodynamic and combustion properties of fuels at elevated temperatures. Develop an initial model of fuel vapor interaction at elevated temperatures. PHASE II: Develop an initial set of materials for the fuel tank that could be used to mitigate secondary explosions. PHASE III: Produce an explosion and fire mitigation prototype material and define field test objectives and conduct limited testing. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL: Successful development of fuel tank fire mitigation materials should enable vehicle design engineers to select new and innovative methods to optimize fuel tank safety features. There is a strong need for the development of this in military air, land, and sea based vehicles which could help mitigate secondary explosions in commercial aircraft, automobiles, trucks, and ships. REFERENCES: 1. MIL-B-87162A. Baffle Material, Explosion Suppression, Expanded Aluminum Mesh, for Aircraft Fuel Tanks. 2. Protacio, Mark."Blast Mitigation of Fuel Tank Explosions."February, 2009
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