Experimental and Numerical Investigations of Glass Curtain Walls Subjected to Low-Level Blast Loads

Experimental and Numerical Investigations of Glass Curtain Walls Subjected to Low-Level Blast Loads

Adam D. Ralston David C. Weggel Matthew J. Whelan Hongbing Fang 

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA

Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA

| |
| | Citation



A series of three full-scale, nearly-conventional, curtain wall specimens were blast tested in the open arena of the Infrastructure Security and Emergency Responder Research and Training (ISERRT) Facility in Gastonia, NC. The specimens were subjected to low-level blast loads produced from the detonation of high explosives. Low-level blast loads, similar to those produced during the tests, are typical of small charge weights (i.e. satchel charges) at short-to-moderate standoffs. A simple finite element (FE) model that effectively represents the nonlinear dynamic response of glass curtain walls subjected to blast loads was developed, and simulation results were compared with the test results.  It was shown that, with the judicious choice of modeling parameters, the FE model effectively represents the response of glass curtain walls subjected to blast loads while being computationally economical. The calibrated FE model was used to evaluate the efficacy of a nonlinear single-degree-of-freedom (NSDOF) design  expression  for  analytically  approximating  the  blast  resistance  of  curtain  wall systems. The design expression is based on a procedure in which a nonlinear resistance function of the system is input to an energy expression that models the maximum nonlinear dynamic deflection due to an ‘impulsive’ loading. It was shown that the maximum impulse predicted by the design expres- sion, when the expression was used in conjunction with a satisfactory resistance function, compared reasonably well with the FE simulation results. The expression could be used as a starting point for design or to supplement more advanced models of curtain walls subjected to blast loads.


finite element modeling, glass curtain wall, nonlinear dynamic response, open-arena blast testing


[1] Kennedy, B.T., Weggel, D.C. & Keanini R.G., Experimental program and simplified nonlinear design expression for glass curtain walls with low-level blast resistance. International Journal of Computational Methods and Experimental Measurements, 1(3), pp. 321–343, 2013. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2495/cmem-v1-n3-321-343

[2] Kennedy, B.T., Performance of a nearly-conventional curtain wall system subjected to blast loads. Master’s Thesis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, 2008.

[3] Pascoe, L.M., Smith, D.C., Del Linz, P., Dear, J. & Cormie, D., Development of a validat- ed engineering model of laminated glass under blast loading. Proc. 2012 Struct. Cong., Chicago, IL, pp. 307–321, 2012. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/9780784412367.028 

[4] Seica, M.V., Krynski, M., Walker, M. & Packer, J.A., Analysis of dynamic response of architectural glazing subjected to blast loading. Journal of Architectural Engineering, 17(2), pp. 59–74, 2011. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(asce)ae.1943-5568.0000035 

[5] Lusk, B., Salim, H., Perry, K., Nawar, M., Wedding, W.C.,  Kiger, S. &   Ibra-him, A., Modeling and testing of laminated window systems under blast loading. Proc. 2011 Struct. Cong., Las Vegas, NV, pp. 1552–1560, 2011. doi: http://dx.doi. org/10.1061/41171(401)135

[6] Zhao, S., Dharani, L.R. & Liang, X., Analysis of damage in laminated architectural glaz- ing subjected to blast loading. Advances in Structural Engineering, 11(1), pp. 129–134, 2008. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1260/136943308784069432

[7] Lin, L.H., Hinman, E., Stone, H.F. & Roberts, A.M., Survey of window retrofit solutions for blast mitigation. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 18(2), pp. 86–94, 2004. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(asce)0887-3828(2004)18:2(86)

[8] Hooper, P.A., Sukhram, R.A.M., Blackman, B.R.K. & Dear, J.P., On the blast resistance of laminated glass. International Journal of Solids and Structures, 49, pp. 899–918, 2012. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijsolstr.2011.12.008

[9] Kumar, P. & Shukla, A., Dynamic response of glass panels subjected to shock load- ing.Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids, 357, pp. 3917–3923, 2011. doi: http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.jnoncrysol.2011.08.009

[10] Larcher, M., Solomos, G., Casadei, F. & Gebbeken, N., Experimental and numeri- cal investigations of laminated glass subjected to blast loading. International Journal of Impact Engineering, 39, pp. 42–50, 2012. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijim- peng.2011.09.006

[11] Wei, J., Shetty, M.S. & Dharani, L.R., Stress characteristics of a laminated architectural glazing subjected to blast loading. Computers and Structures, 84, pp. 699–707, 2006. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compstruc.2005.11.007

[12] Wei, J., Shetty, M.S. & Dharani, L.R., Failure analysis of architectural glazing sub- jected to blast loading. Engineering Failure Analysis, 13, pp. 1029–1043, 2006. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.engfailanal.2005.07.010

[13] Wei, J. & Dharani, L.R., Response of laminated architectural glazing subjected to blast loading. International Journal of Impact Engineering, 32, pp. 2032–2047, 2006. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijimpeng.2005.05.012

[14] Wei, J. & Dharani, L.R., Fracture mechanics of laminated glass subjected to blast load- ing. Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics, 44, pp. 157–167, 2005. doi: http:// dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tafmec.2005.06.004

[15] Wei, Y., Suwen, C. & Au, F.T.K., Failure analysis of four-point-supported glass panels subjected to blast loading. HKIE Transactions, 20(1), pp. 62–70, 2013.

[16] Zhang, X., Hong, H. & Ma, G., Parametric study of laminated glass window response to blast loads. Engineering Structures, 56, pp. 1707–1717, 2013. doi: http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.engstruct.2013.08.007

[17] Yarosh, K., Wolf, A.T. & Sitte, S., Evaluation of silicone sealants at high movement rates relevant to bomb mitigation window and curtainwall design. Journal of ASTM International, 6(2), pp. 1–17, 2009. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1520/jai101953

[18] Hautekeer, J.P., Monga, F., Giesecke, A. & O’Brien, B., The use of silicone sealants in pro- tective glazing applications. Glass Processing Days, Tampere, Finland, pp. 298–302, 2001.

[19] Edel, M.T. & Kumar, D., Blast design approach comparisons for curtain wall. Proc., 2010 Struct. Cong., Orlando, FL, pp. 2076–2089, 2010. doi: http://dx.doi. org/10.1061/41130(369)188

[20] Cussen, R. & Van Eepoel, P., Inelastic dynamic finite-element design of glazed façade systems for blast loading. Crossing Borders: Structures Congress 2008, Vancouver, Canada, pp. 1–11, 2008. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/41016(314)153

[21] Dawson, H. & Smilowitz, R., Inelastic dynamic response of curtainwall systems to blast loading. Journal of ASTM International, 4(5), pp. 1–5, 2007. doi: http://dx.doi. org/10.1520/jai100481

[22] Clift, C.D., Curtain wall designs for wind and blast: three case studies. Journal of Architectural Engineering, 12(3), pp. 150–155, 2006. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/ (asce)1076-0431(2006)12:3(150)

[23] Field, C.J., Godinho, J.A. & Wopschall, S.R., Blast performance of cable supported curtain walls. Proc. 2012 Struct. Cong., Chicago, IL, pp. 322–332, 2012. doi: http:// dx.doi.org/10.1061/9780784412367.029

[24] Wagner, M., Nonlinear dynamic finite element analysis of blast loaded curtain walls. Proc., 2010 Struct. Cong., Orlando, FL, pp. 2090–2100, 2010. doi: http://dx.doi. org/10.1061/41130(369)189

[25] Nawar, M., Salim, H., Lusk, B. & Kiger, S., Numerical simulation and verification of curtain wall systems under shock pressure. Practice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction, 19, pp. 1–12, 2014. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(asce)sc.1943-5576.0000193

[26] Idriss, J.S. & Lowak, M.J., Empirical evaluation of glazing systems in response to blast loads. Proc. 2014 Struct. Cong., Boston, MA, pp. 258–269, 2014. doi: http://dx.doi. org/10.1061/9780784413357.024

[27] UFC 4-010-01, DoD minimum antiterrorism standards for buildings. Department of Defense, Washington, DC, 2013.

[28] LS-DYNA R7.1 Keyword User’s Manual, Vol. II Material Models; Livermore Software Technology Corporation, Livermore, CA, 2014.

[29] Zhang, X., Zou, Y., Hao, H., Li, X, Ma, G. & Liu, K., Laboratory test on dynamic mate- rial properties of annealed float glass. International Journal of Protective Structures, 3(4), pp. 407–430, 2012. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1260/2041-4196.3.4.407

[30] Teich, M. & Gebbeken, N., Structures subjected to low-level blast loads: analysis of aerodynamic damping and fluid–structure interaction. Journal of Structural Engi- neering, 138(5), pp. 625–635, 2012. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(asce)st.1943- 541x.0000493

[31] UFC 3-340-02. Structures to resist the effects of accidental explosions. Department of Defense: USA, 2008.

[32] LS-DYNA R7.1 Keyword User’s Manual, Vol. I; Livermore Software Technology Cor- poration, Livermore, CA, 2014.

[33] PDC TR-12-01, Methodology manual for the single-degree-of-freedom blast effects design spreadsheet for windows (SBEDS-W). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Protective Design Center Technical Report, 2012.

[34] ARA. WINGARD-MP (Multi-Pane Edition) User Guide. Applied Research Associates, 2010.