Specialized towers built to aid explosive research

Building a tower that can withstand years of Alberta weather is one thing. Making those towers capable of withstanding thousands of explosions as well is another challenge altogether—one tackled by the DCC team at CFB Suffield.

As part of a larger facility upgrade to support Defence Research Development Canada (DRDC)’s research on the effects of fuel/air mixture and other blast weapons, DCC was tasked with managing the erection of four towers. The project included creating two hoist systems that hold high resolution cameras that shoot 20,000 frames per second directly over the explosion.

“This gives an overview from above so they can assess the full impact of an explosion, rather than one angle,” said Gina Dolezsar, DCC Team Leader, Project Management.

One test site has 25-metre towers separated by 200 metres, the other required 46 metres between two 30-metre towers. Not only does this require very particular planning and manufacturing, but installing the specialized structures also presented a unique challenge.

“As the towers were delivered on site, it was definitely something to be seen,” said Dolezsar.

James Summers, Construction Coordinator on the project, explains that each tower was brought on the site in four pieces. First, the bottom core was set, then an outer protective shell was threaded into place on top. Then, the top half of the inside core was installed, with the protective shell slid on top of that.

The erection of the towers marks one of the final significant steps in a multi-year project that included construction of a new combustion laboratory and outdoor test site with three testing pads and an earth-covered bunker. Testing on the outdoor sites is anticipated to start in May 2017.


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