Advanced Blast Simulator Research

The Simulator

The Advanced Blast Simulator (ABS), which is 2.5 feet in diameter and 25 feet long, can generate a simple free-field Friedlander wave that mimics what occurs when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonates in an open field.

Advanced Blast Simulator
Advanced Blast Simulator. From right to left: driver section (A), transition section (B), test section (C), end wave eliminator (D).

How it Works

The Advanced Blast Simulator creates the shock wave by using a high-pressure helium tank to create pressure behind a membrane that is manually bolted into place between the driver and transition section. The pressure builds until the membrane ruptures, which sends a shockwave through the transition section of the ABS into the test section. The Friedlander wave forms in the test section which is confirmed using dynamic and static pressure transducers. The shockwave then disperses in the final section of the ABS, the end-wave eliminator.

The simulator was designed by blast physicist David Ritzel (Dyn-Fx Consulting) and mechanical engineer Steve Parks (ORA Inc.), who both have more than 35 years of experience in the field. It is currently manufactured by Stumptown Research and Development LLC, which is based in Western North Carolina.

The ABS is unique compared to traditional cylindrical blast tubes and offers several advantages. A traditional blast tube that is 2.5 feet in diameter would need to be 50 feet long to create a simple Friedlander wave in the test section. But with the wedge-shaped driver of the ABS, the effect can occur faster and over a shorter distance in a much smaller simulator. In addition, the end-wave eliminator eliminates the artifacts found in the test section of open-ended traditional blast tubes.

Blast Research

Originally built to study effective treatments for traumatic brain injury (TBI), Dr. Parsons is currently using the repetitive blast model to study post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE).

In addition, the ABS can be used for research in:

  • Single and repetitive mild blast TBI
  • Military operational blast exposure injury models
  • Brain and spinal cord injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sleep disorders
  • Any complication that a soldier exposed to multiple IEDs might experience

Active Studies

  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for the Treatment of Repetitive Blast and Acceleration Deceleration Impact Traumatic Brain Injury-Induced Post-Traumatic Epilepsy. Department of Veterans Affairs, Rehabilitation Research and Development Office, BRRC Award No. B3000-C and BRRC Innovation Award No. 0220BRRC-04 Role: COI. PI: Prodip Bose.


Contact Dr. Parsons if you are interested in collaborating or working with the Advanced Blast Simulator.

John Travis Parsons, PhD

J. Travis Parsons, PhD

Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology; Investigator, McKnight Brain Institute