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BBC Tomorrow's World
"The secret is in the sole"
 real 28k

Thursday, 9 March, 2000, 16:05 GMT
Anti-mine boots under trial
They could give added protection in mine clearance
They may look like fashionable platform-soled boots, but this pair could just save your life.

They are designed to protect your feet and legs if you were to step on a landmine.

The sole is made from minute grains of stone coated in resin
The footwear, featured on the BBC Science programme Tomorrow's World, is currently under trial at the UK's Royal Military College of Science at Devizes, Wiltshire.

The soles are about 2.5 centimetres (one inch) thicker than a normal climbing boot and are made from a new material called Tabre (technology for attenuating blast related energy).

It is made from minute grains of stone coated in resin.

Stone particles

As the first shock wave from an exploding mine hits the sole, the blast enters through thousands of holes.

Broken bones are still a real possibility
As it squeezes into the chambers around the maze of stone particles, the blast is deflected in different directions, which slows the energy's progress.

The next line of defence are the resin bonds holding the stone particles together. These break under the pressure and the disintegrating material absorbs the shock wave, making it easier for the boot to survive.

Finally the foot is protected by a layer of hard resistant material which deflects the soil and shrapnel. This is crucial because damage to the foot by flying fragments is one of the main causes of amputation.

Broken bones

Potential wearers of the boot include the military and aid workers. Armies around the world are currently showing keen interest in the boots.

The sole disintegrates as it absorbs the energy
They have been developed by a Derby company called Aigis. They claim the boots absorb up to 90% of the blast energy of a mine explosion. Their trials have involved placing the boots on top of mines containing up to 75 grams of explosive.

The tests have shown that the wearer may still suffer broken bones but the integrity of the leg can be maintained. "If you have a repairable limb, that's far better than having an amputation," Rob Wharton of Aigis told BBC News Online.

"We have proved to our satisfaction and to the satisfaction of the orthopaedic surgeon working with us that the boot does work."

Tomorrow's World is broadcast on BBC One on Wednesday's at 1930 GMT
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See also:

22 Feb 00 |  Washington 2000
Landmine clearance breakthrough
04 Nov 99 |  Sci/Tech
Shuttle fuel clears landmines
20 Jun 99 |  Sci/Tech
Making a beeline for mines
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