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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 11:30 GMT
The flat-pack bomb shelter unveiled
See inside the 'Ikea-like' flat-pack bomb shelter.

Forget buying a new shed this weekend, a flat-pack bomb shelter has been launched that slots together in hours and can protect against a terrorist blast.

"It's a bit like a Lego construction kit," says Dr Jurek Tolloczko, one of the British engineers behind the Surefast shelter.

Made from panels of Bi-Steel - two steel plates held together by internal rods and then filled with concrete - Surefast shelters have been tested by the British Army.

Reinforced concrete after a bomb blast
Reinforced concrete does not protect from all bombs
Huge explosions which can knock a hole straight through thick slabs of reinforced concrete, just left a dent in Bi-Steel.

Corus - formerly British Steel - is marketing the Surefast shelter as a response to "growing concerns over terrorism", however, Dr Tolloczko says his team has not jumped on the 11 September bandwagon.

"We've been working on Bi-Steel for 10 years, actually when fear of terrorist attacks in the UK was decreasing. We began thinking of it as a material to build stronger oil and gas rigs out of, following the disaster of the Piper Alpha."

Bi-Steel has many peaceful applications - it is already used in bridge design and in the making of wind turbines for generating electricity. But its strength makes it ideal to foil the plans of various evil doers.

Constructing a Surefast house
In 10 hours, you too can have a bomb-proof home
Aside from protecting people from a major terrorist bomb blast - one City of London building already has a Bi-Steel car park for just this purpose - Corus says a Bi-Steel bank vault would be almost impregnable to even determined robbers.

The Surefast is intended mainly for use in large public buildings which might prove a tempting target for terrorists, rather than to protect suburban homes. However, it is not without its attractions for house builders.

While Dr Tolloczko says no one would want to "live in a fortress", a Surefast structure can be put together in just hours with simple tools - which is something which certainly cannot be said for bricks and mortar homes.

A Surefast building
Home, safe home
With the addition of more attractive brick cladding, the prefabricated Bi-Steel panels could be a cheap solution to the housing crisis affecting many areas of the UK.

"It's just like existing construction materials, only stronger," says Dr Tolloczko. "I wouldn't have a problem living in one."


SEE ALSO:
Wartime relic gets new home
26 Dec 02 |  England


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