Radio Frequency (RF) Technologies
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Russ Research Center
Dayton, OH 45440
Phone: (937) 320-5999
Fax: (937) 320-7773

Applied research transforming complex
concepts into engineered solutions.

Non-Pyrotechnic Explosion Simulation


S*R is developing a modular approach to non-pyrotechnic explosion simulation employing microprocessor-controlled electromechanical hardware which duplicates the effect of pyrotechnics at reduced cost and greater safety.

Flash is produced by a xenon flashlamp, directed into the smoke cloud, to give the appearance of an actual explosion.
Bang (a shock wave) is produced by a shock tube driven by compressed air.
Smoke is produced by entraining non-toxic, non-flammable smoke powder in the air blast from the shock tube. A variety of colors are available.

This approach offers several advantages over pyrotechnics:

There is no fire hazard, as no flammable materials are used.
Cost per shot is much lower than pyrotechnics.
Flash, bang, and smoke levels can be independently tailored to suit requirements.
The Sound Pressure Level (SPL) of the bang can be closely controlled to comply with safety requirements.

S*R has developed two approaches, one using single-shot cartridges, and the other using a high speed valve to excite the shock tube. The cartridge approach offers the advantages of simpler equipment, and the ability to mix cartridges for different effects. The high speed valve approach offers unattended operation and the lowest cost per shot, since the only consumable is smoke powder.


A brassboard Non-pyrotechnic A/V Cueing device was completed and demonstrated in the spring of 1998. The brassboard high speed valve successfully completed a 1,000 shot durability test late in 1997. S*R has received a U.S. Patent on the basic principle of the Non-pyrotechnic A/V Cue and a patent application is in progress for the high speed valve incorporated in the present design.

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Brochure: In-depth description

Meat Tenderizer


Hydrodynamic processing (HDP), the tenderizing of meat by the use of shock waves, has been demonstrated, and steps have been taken to commercialize the process. Using the HDP that is developed to date, the meat is wrapped in plastic and immersed in a tank filled with water, in which the shock wave is then produced by a small amount of high explosive. The need for explosives and the additional cost of shrink wrapping and unwrapping the meat are both barriers to commercial acceptance of HDP.

Tests conducted by Spectra Research in conjunction with the U S Department of Agriculture Food Technology and Safety Laboratory have shown that S*R non-pyrotechnic shock wave generation technology shows significant potential for tenderizing meat without the use of explosives. Moreover, the Spectra Research tenderizing technique does not require the meat to be immersed in water, so the meat does not need to be sealed in plastic for the process. Tenderness improvements of as much as 55%, as indicated by Warner-Bratzler shear force, have been demonstrated in beef. These results are comparable with explosive HDP.


Spectra Research, Inc. has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U S Department of Agriculture Food Technology and Safety Laboratory to pursue development of the process. A U.S. patent application has also been filed.

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