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Water Blade Technology Developed to Disable IEDs

IED disruptor (Sandia National Laboratory)

Air Force bomb specialist demonstrates the IED disruptor. (Sandia National Laboratory)

A device developed at Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico shoots a blade of water capable of penetrating steel that helps American troops in Afghanistan disable deadly improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

Sandia licensed the technology to TEAM Technologies Inc., also in Albuquerque. The company made its first shipment of some 3,000 new water disruptors — called the Stingray — to Afghanistan this summer.

Sandia says the portable plastic device is filled with water and an explosive material is placed in it which, when detonated, creates a shock wave that travels through the water and accelerates it inward into a concave opening. When the water collides, it produces a thin blade.

Steve Todd, one of the Sandia Lab developers of the device, says the shock wave  allows “a high-speed, very precise water blade to go through and do precision type of destruction on whatever improvised explosive device it’s going up against.” Todd adds, “Immediately behind the precision water blade is a water slug, which performs a general disruption that tears everything apart.”

Soldiers rotating out of Afghanistan and Iraq worked with researchers and developers to test the device for several months in the New Mexico desert. Paul Reynolds, TEAM Technologies’ program manager, said the company improved the tool based on the soldiers’ input after it was exposed to dust, water, and banging around by the troops.

A video demonstration shows the device in action against a simulated IED.

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