Czech scientists use new materials for blast-resistant litter bins

Photo: Czech Television

Terrorist attacks in public spaces have been haunting city dwellers for years. The recent bombing attack at the Boston marathon made those fears even more acute. Many cities, including Prague, have installed blast-resistant litter bins, which can protect the surrounding area from the effects of a bomb planted inside, or could serve as a disposal for a suspected bomb placed nearby. Now, Czech scientists have come up with a new prototype of a bomb resistant bin, using completely new materials.

Photo: Czech Television
A normal garbage bin would shatter into multiple fragments if subjected to an explosion, not only failing to limit, but also potentially increasing the damage from a bomb. As little as 100 grams of a plastic explosive could rip a concrete bin into hundreds of pieces, projecting them as far as 150 meters from the explosion site.

A group of Czech scientists, with the help of the Research Institute of Building Materials in Brno, have come up with a garbage bin that is made to withstand a blast from one to five kilograms of explosive.

The innovation lies in the material used for the lining of the bin. Radek Holešínský from the Institute of Building Materials says the team used the standard combination of special concrete, ceramics and steel, but in addition developed a completely new material:

“For the strongest charge, we have used steel, but instead of combining it with fibre cement, we have developed a new special absorptive matter on the basis of glass. As a result, the external casing is completely intact.”

A person standing as close as five meters from the bin should be completely safe if a bomb went off inside it. Similar garbage bins were placed in the Prague metro about three years ago, after regular bins were removed following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001.

Blast-resistant garbage bins in the Prague metro,  photo: Kristýna Maková
Praguers have also experienced bomb attacks, although not as catastrophic. A total of three bombs exploded in the center of Prague in the 1990’s, which injured three people.

The blast-resistant litter bins that stand in the Prague metro now were purchased from an Israeli company for a total of around eight million crowns. One bin came out to a little under 90 thousand crowns, and the city did not have the finances to place more of them around the busy city center. The hope is that the locally produced bins will cost less. The developers have already said that they can produced a few hundred such bins per month, if need be.