Explosion Effects

The Explosion Effects Group performs research on a wide range of topics involving explosives in support of private industry and other government departments. We perform research and simulations involving energetic materials in quantities ranging from a few grams to 20,000 kilograms.

CanmetCERL is the main scientific resource for the Chief Inspector of Explosives, and in this capacity, the Explosion Effects Group conducts research to inform and support explosives regulation. For example, our tests on barriers designed to separate detonators from explosives led to the development of the Schedule IV container for explosives transport. In the field of pyrotechnics, we have tested hundreds of fireworks mortars and rated their safety based on fragmentation and throw distance, and we have evaluated mortar racks to assess their safety in the event of a violent in-mortar explosion. We have analyzed the process within a perforating gun shop to determine the hazards associated with their loading and storage areas.

Our work also includes research into equipment for the safe handling of explosives. Examples include the development of containers for the RCMP Bomb Disposal Unit, the development of tests to evaluate the performance of bomb suits, the design and prototyping of fireworks mortars, and the design and installation of robot-controlled processes for energetic materials.

The Explosion Effects Group also conducts research on the interaction of blast waves with structures in order to establish the blast resistance of materials, predict damage, and devise ways to mitigate the destructive effects. Our research includes damage resulting from other (non-blast) explosive effects such as fireball, fragments, ground motion, and cratering. Examples of this work include a study on the blast response of window anchors, and the development of a Rapid Blast Screening Application designed to quickly rate the vulnerability of buildings to explosive attacks. We recently began performing assessments of critical energy infrastructure (such as pipelines and electrical generation and distribution facilities, including dams) to evaluate their vulnerabilities against explosive loads.

When possible, our group conducts small-scale testing at CanmetCERL to avoid the high cost of field testing with large quantities of explosives. For example, we have used small-scale tests to characterize blast wave infiltration into buildings through failed windows, blast wave channeling, blast wave propagation around buildings, and the properties of blast waves in tunnels. We also perform large-scale tests using military ranges at CFB Petawawa (Ontario) and CFB Suffield (Alberta), where up to 10,000 kilograms of high explosives can be safely detonated. This includes testing in support of accident investigations, and tests for the evaluation of windows, doors, and small structures under blast conditions. These latter tests typically follow established procedures such as those of the United States General Services Administration (GSA) or the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

The Explosion Effects Group serves on various code writing committees for the National Fire Prevention Association (fireworks and explosives; explosive venting) and the International Standards Organization (window testing).


Our clients include manufacturers, importers and distributors of explosives, pyrotechnics, fireworks, ammunition, propellants and accessories, as well as various levels of government and law enforcement agencies.