The Pawsey Supercomputing Centre


Development of Design and Analysis Methods for Blast Resistant Window Structures

A team led by Professor Hong Hao is using the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre to develop improved design guidelines for blast resistant windows. The research started at The University of Western Australia in 2011 and continued at Curtin University after Professor Hao moved to Curtin in March 2014, with the research completed in December. The project aims to develop numerical methods of predicting window failure and fragmentation, as well as investigating the effectiveness of various window strengthening measures for better life and property protection.



Simulation of debris impact.

Simulation of debris impact.

Post event studies reveal that over 80 percent of casualties in explosion events are caused by glass shards from fractured windows. Proper analysis and design of better blast-resistant glass windows could help to reduce this number, leading to improved protection of both life and property.

“Terrorist bombings and accidental explosions have posed a significant threat to structures and residents across recent years. Glazed windows are considered as the most  vulnerable structural area to air blast waves comparative to other integral construction points,” says team member Dr Xihong Zhang.

A key challenge for this project is the size and complexity of the numerical and data input elements.  The number of factors involved is too great to compute  using an ordinary desktop computer system, as the potential data outcome possibilities are exponential. The analysis of these large data sets is what makes the use of supercomputers a necessity.

“The response of window structures normally happens within one second,” says Dr Zhang.

“The complex calculations take up weeks or even months for each simulation, which we need to run thousands of times. This is not practical without the use of supercomputing.”



The project made use of the commercial code LS-DYNA, which proved to be a useful method of computational analysis, with the help of Pawsey’s support staff.

According to Dr Zhang, more studies carried out towards discovering new blast and impact mitigation methods with new materials and technologies would aid the continual development of design guidelines for better blast resistant windows.



Running blast simulations unveiled the various failure modes of diverse glass window systems when impacted with a force. With the aid of the Pawsey supercomputers, parametric studies were performed and empirical formulae were derived  which could allow easy assessment of glass window vulnerability across a range of window designs.

“The findings of this study definitely help to better protect the safety of personnel and property against blast and impact loads and will enable engineers and professionals easy and direct assessment of glass window blast and impact resistance capacity,” says Dr Zhang.

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