It seems that the time of space-age military technology, as seen in Star Trek and Star Wars, has come. Boeing has been granted a patent for energy shields which could protect friendly troops from the blasts of explosive devices.
Shockwaves originating from detonations of high explosives may be as deadly as fragments formed by bursts of thick metal containers carrying different types of explosives, commonly known as projectiles, rockets, bombs… So far, protective armors were mainly intended to mitigate the threat posed by shrapnels and bullets from small arms, but so far no one could find the way to counter the damaging effects of shock waves.
Researchers at Boeing have high hopes their new system could deplete the awesome energy of military explosives. They have come up with the idea of how to protect armored vehicles from explosive killer waves of the enemy fire and the improvised explosive devices (IED’s), known as roadside bombs and vehicle born IED’s.
Boeing named their invention ”Method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic force”. It is primarily meant to increase the level of protection of armored vehicles, but in the future we can easily imagine such systems being developed to provide a protection for forces inside any type of building or vehicle.
Basically, what it does is to detect an explosion in the proximity of a vehicle via shockwave sensors and generate a buffer in between the vehicle and the explosive wave by changing density, temperature and/or composition of air in the surrounding environment.
So far the whole project is just one good idea, and Boeing researchers cannot be credited for it, since similar force fields have already been portrayed in Sci-Fi movies. Nothing substantial, as far as we know, has been produced so far. Boeing researchers are considering several possible options to obtain that plasma channel in between the explosive device and its target. These involve sending laser pulses of high intensity or microwaves towards the origin of the shockwave, or creating an electrical arc. The whole effect would last just a fraction of a second, but would be enough to redirect or partially deplete the shockwave.
As described in Boeing’s patent specifications, plasma channel “may reduce the energy density of the shockwave by creating a second medium in the path of the advancing shockwave that reflects, refracts, absorbs and deflects at least a portion of the shockwave.”