Shock Tube Test Facility2019-01-25T17:48:40+00:00

Shock Tube Overview

Conceptual rendering of Virginia Tech Shock Tube Testing Facility

The Virginia Tech Shock Tube Testing Facility, located at the Thomas M. Murray Structures Laboratory in Blacksburg, Virginia, is a unique research installation that will be equipped with a large-scale gas-detonation blast simulator and state-of-the-art high-speed data acquisition system and cameras. The blast simulator, currently under construction and scheduled for completion in March 2019, is designed to produce high pressure blast waves that accurately simulate those generated by accidental explosions and terrorist bombings. The shock tube is intended to evaluate the resilience of structural and non-structural building components subjected to extreme blast loads, including columns, floor systems, windows, and exterior cladding. Other applications include fundamental study of material behavior under high strain rate loading and development and validation of new structural systems for enhanced energy dissipation.


Components of the Virginia Tech Shock Tube

The shock tube will consist of three main components: (1) a detonation chamber; (2) multiple transition sections; and, (3) a test specimen reaction frame. Shock wave energy is generated in the pre-detonation chamber, where as much as 45 ft³ of oxy-acetylene can be detonated. Shock wave expansion occurs in the transition sections, whose shape and gradual transition are designed to ensure shock wave planarity. Test specimens are mounted to a heavily reinforced reaction frame for testing. The reaction frame is ballasted by its own self-weight and is uncoupled from the rest of the system to permit it to roll-away after testing to dissipate energy after the event.


  • 30 psi (200 kPa) reflected pressure
  • 10-50 millisecond positive phase duration
  • Far-field explosive pressure waveform
  • Oxy-acetylene gas-detonation drive
  • Specimens with loaded area 8 ft x 8 ft (2.4 m x 2.4 m)
  • Footprint: 67 ft x 12 ft x 14 ft (20 m x 3.6 m x 4.2 m)
  • Mass: 75,000 lbs (34,000 kg)
  • Remote filling, firing, and operating station

Blast Characteristics

Information coming soon.


A sixteen-channel high-speed digital data acquisition system recording at 1,000,000 samples per second is available to measure the blast pressure profile and monitor the displacements, strains, reactions and accelerations of the test specimens. High-speed video cameras capturing 5,000 frames per second are employed to record the response of the test specimens from various vantage points, depending on the research needs the project. A wide array of displacement transducers, pressure gauges, accelerators, load cells, and other instruments are also available.